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The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We review

The+Land+Is+Inhospitable+and+So+Are+We+album+cover
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We album cover

Human beings are good at a lot of things: throwing things, running around, and being sad. The last one is probably the easiest to do.

See, throwing things and running around take effort to do. You have to actually get out of bed and move around to do that, and we all know how much that sucks. That’s why being sad is great: you actually get BETTER at it when you lie around in bed all day!

Mitsuki Miyawaki, better known by her stage name Mitski, knows this very well. Born in Mie, Japan in 1990 to a Japanese mom and white American dad, she moved all around the world before she was even 18– the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Alabama, and way more.

She had always sung in choirs at school, but she didn’t do anything big until college, where she self-published her first two albums for her senior project at Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music. “Lush” and “Retired from Sad, New Career in Business,” while technically school projects, also served as a way to express her thoughts on herself and her upbringing. She ended up creating multiple more albums in similar veins after that.

That’s when things started to get crazy. Her music quickly began to spread on the internet, and TikTok was the biggest catalyst. From Strawberry Blond, to Nobody, Washing Machine Heart, Me and My Husband, and more, all of them got shared around the world for how heart wrenching her songwriting is. That, or it got shared around for the fact that she said the word “nobody” over thirty times.

Now, it’s September 15th, 2023, and Mitski has a brand new album for all the sad kids of the world: The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. Does she continue to live up to the hype, though?

Spoiler alert: yeah, definitely. At least, in terms of sadness. Rest assured, she’s just as good at channeling the lost kid within us as she was in 2012.

“I Don’t Like My Mind” (what a title!) follows someone who runs away from themselves in search of something to fulfill them. “When Memories Snow” is for the people who just want to be valued, even with all of the painful parts of their past following them. Normal problems for average people.

But The Land is Inhospitable is about more than just self loathing. A number of the songs are about love. There are few things I hate more about modern music than its obsession with romance and sex, but this love is refreshing because it’s so much more. The Land is Inhospitable is about pure love, and love that’s slowly coming to an end, and love that’s ended, and self love. Pretty much all of Mitski’s other albums feature songs about love of yourself or others, but this album takes it up to a whole different level.

Whether you’ve felt those feelings or not, Mitski’s lyricism will punch you in the face regardless. “I’m Your Man” is one of my favorites off of the album, and a big part of that is the lyrics. I mean, it opens up with “you’re an angel, I’m a dog / or you’re a dog and I’m your man” and it closes with “you believe me like a god / I betray you like a man.” I don’t care how high and mighty you think you are, those kinds of metaphors can drive ANYONE insane.

Mitski’s writing has always been one of her greatest skills, and here is one of the albums where it shines the most. The range of emotions and topics that are touched on in this surprisingly short album means that she had to fight harder to convey everything, and it worked out. It’s easy to make a sad album about how much you hate yourself, but Mitski’s genius is her ability to make a hopeful album about how much she feels for the whole world.

Thankfully, the sound design is awesome, too. “The Deal,” a song about the difficulties of moving on from trauma or past experiences, gets loud and distorted as the speaker realizes what they’ve done. Sure, it’s an easy cheat to get nerds like me to instantly obsess over your song, but there’s a reason why it’s so effective.

She also uses interesting instrumentation, like the brass fanfare-esque bits in “When Memories Snow” or the literal chorus in “Bug Like an Angel.” Thank goodness Mitski has an actual team with her now, because my brain has been irrevocably changed ever since experiencing this.

Overall, the biggest downside to this album is its length. With eleven songs totaling in at just over 32 minutes, the average song on this album is less than three minutes long. One of the best songs on the entire album, “When Memories Snow” (argue with the wall) doesn’t even hit the two minute mark. Sure, it’s easier for those damned gen-z’ers to sit through the whole thing when it’s shorter, but it’s hard not to miss when music could be LONGER than average.

Still, The Land is Inhospitable is one of Mitski’s best albums to date. Her emotions, lyrics and musicality have been on the rise for a good decade, and here it’s clear just what she’s capable of. There’s never been a better time to turn on her discography and let yourself get lost in your emotions— because they’re Mitski’s, too.

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