Mhmmm….. I did not expect a new Mitski album to drop this year to be honest.
Yeah, Laurel Hell came out last year in 2022 along with her appearing on the song “This is A Life” (with Son Lux & David Byrne) from Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, but prior to that, it had been four years between that and Be The Cowboy. However, I’m not complaining about having new Mitski material. It had its rollout with singles such as “Bug Like An Angel,” which was the opener of this album, as well as other singles like “Star” & “Heaven.”
So, now it’s time to ask that very familiar question… how’s the album?
According to Mitski herself, this is her most American album with the center of the lyrics being “the theme of love,” and the sound of the music is influenced by Spaghetti Western works as we do get more of an Americana/folk/country vibe in the album than the previous work. As usual, Patrick Hyland is back on the production throughout and as I said, this does have that country twang to it, and the sound is quite fitting to the theme here.
Mitski’s singing and subject matter has always been the type that attracts multiple listens, and she always has an excellent voice and the songs always soar, like on “Bug Like An Angel.”
At this point, having reviewed a couple of Mitski albums, I’m more familiar with her song structure and how the meaning of the song tells more with just the two verses and choruses. “Buffalo Replaced” is all about free will and self-confidence in a wild and hopeful expression. Songs like “Heaven,” “I Don’t Like My Mind,” “When Memories Snow,” etc. all have a country singer-songwriter vibe, and while I’m not very familiar with the genre as a whole, I can appreciate the sound as it’s presented here.
One track called “The Deal” deals with selling your soul to someone but more to just getting rid of it; “When Memories Snow” is where she reflects on ‘shoveling’ memories back of her mind and seeing the outcome of that being less than satisfactory. This might be the shortest track of the album, especially considering the songs the length of the album is 32 minutes. “My Love Mine All Mine” might be the highlight of this album and one of my favorites overall where Mitski entrusts the display of her partner’s love to the moon, hoping her lover will feel for her for eternity.
Moon, a hole of light
Through the big top tent up high
Here before and after me
Shinin’ down on me
Moon, tell me if I could
Send up my heart to you?
So, when I die, which I must do
Could it shine down here with you?
“The Frost” showcases that feeling of loneliness and losing connections with people and how bleak and dry the world is without it, often feeling very melancholy and hopeless without that connection; it’s another highlight of the album for me. “I’m Your Man” does hit familiar territory with Mitski as that song is all about how little she appreciated her lover as the relationship goes south, and you also get some background ambience with dogs barking in the background. Closing the album out is “I Love Me After You,” and like I said it does hit familiar territory as it’s all about accepting yourself as you are after the relationship ends and you learn who they really are.
Overall, this album is what I expected to hear from Mitski from the somber tone and subject matter to the song structures, but I will say the change in sound after doing pop on Laurel Hell then going to the folk/Americana sound isn’t too shabby, although I think I like the sound of the previous album more but it isn’t a detriment here. This is still Mitski at her finest and another record she made worth digging into.
FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. This record is inhospitable and…. well, it’s still good to listen to.
The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We is on Dead Oceans. It’s available on CD, yinyl, digital download and streaming services. It’s also available to purchase on her BANDCAMP.