Mitski’s peculiarity lies in the distinctive gentleness she uses to portray her deepest, earnest, and even most grotesque ideas.
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, her latest album released on Sept. 15, reiterates her poetic talent as a singer-songwriter.
In comparison to her previous albums centered mostly on her self-objectification to obtain the love she yearns for, her struggle to experience her sexuality without feeling shame, and her constant battle with unrequited love, this seventh studio album narrows down to the idea of a divine or religious salvation.
The title itself exposes the singer’s pessimism about this world, while the 11 tracks that comprise the album focus on a better future that the singer believes awaits in heaven—which is also the title of the third track—and the need for repentance while on this Earth.
A choir of singers accompanies Mitski through almost every song, creating the illusion of being inside a church, with Mitski’s words as prayers. The use of angels as characters in her songs and the use of animals to represent herself, especially as an insect, juxtapose the divine with the earthly flawed creatures, pointing towards Mitski’s image of herself as a sinful, inferior being.
This is evident mostly through songs such as “I Don’t Like My Mind”, “Bug Like an Angel”, and “I’m Your Man,” in which Mitski reflects on her bad habits and behavior through a guilty tone.
“Did you go and make promises you can’t keep? / Well, when ya break them, they break you right back / Amateur mistake / You can take it from me,” Mitski sings in “Bug Like an Angel,” revealing her inability to stick to her word, a theme that is also present in “I’m Your Man.”
This 10th track directly contrasts singer and poet Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” a song in which the singer makes his love interest aware that he will bend and mold into anything she believes to be her ideal man. Mitski, stands in the other extreme: Her love interest, in sort of a religious way, already believes in her as a superior being, yet she inevitably finds ways to shatter this belief.
“You’re an angel, I’m a dog/ Or you’re a dog and I’m your man / You believe me like a god / I destroy you like I am,” Mitski sings, admitting once again, shamefully but honestly, her destructive tendencies and how self-aware she is about the power she has over others.
The self-criticizing lyrics in most of Mitski’s songs give the listener an incentive to trust her voice. She is not simply putting herself as a victim in her lyrics but exposing her accountability too. The concept of sin also matches the album’s theme of a search for divine salvation.
Fortunately, in this album, Mistki also strays momentarily away from the self-reproaching tone and offers two tracks that brighten up the album with a heart-warming light that is novel for Mitski.
“My Love Mine All Mine” and “I Love Me After You” are two songs that a Mitski fan wouldn’t expect from her, as she is not known for her upbeat songs but rather her emblematic hopelessness.
“Nothing in the world belongs to me / But my love, mine, all mine, all mine,” Mitski sings in “My Love Mine All Mine.
It is a beautiful song about her realization that despite the fact that she cannot control or possess anything in this world, the love within herself is the one thing no one can take away from her.
Finally, the album ends with “I Love Me After You,” a track with an optimistic view toward a breakup and solitude.
“Brushin’ my hair naked / Spritz my face with toner / Splash water on my neck / Laughin’ in the mirror / Cool water in a glass / Drink it down / How I love me after you,” Mitski sings against a soothing, almost celestial melody.
Despite the world’s inhospitable state, Mitski is able to latch on to what she can: herself and the love inside her.
Although her lyrics succeed in exploring—always sensitively—a range of ideas that stick to the listener, the album’s repetitive melodies diminish the memorability of each song. It is a shame that each song, written with a poetic delicacy, gets lost within an album in which all songs may sound the same to the inattentive listener.
Certain songs, however, stand out for their novelty and their evidently fleshed-out lyricism. All in all, Mitski’s new album, with the exception of her two optimistic tracks, is what fans may have expected from her—a set of excruciatingly self-aware lyrics sung in the most graceful vocals.