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Mitski - The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We (Album Review)

Friday, 22 September 2023 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

Mitski quietly made three albums before crashing into the wider consciousness with Your Best American Girl in 2016. In this time, she honed not so much a sound as a sound world, tied together by haunting melodies and cutting but syrupy vocals.

Her newest entry into the catalogue (which now runs to seven albums, despite her only being 32 years old) is ‘The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We’, a work that retains these hallmarks but drifts away from the more electro-pop trappings of 2022’s fantastic ‘Laurel Hell’.

What emerges instead is a more acoustic and almost Western sound, evoking a large open frontier populated by wild dogs and buffalo.

At many points this frontier appears to be that inhospitable land, but Mitski also creates lovely, natural tableaus evoking softness and light. “Now I bend like a willow,” she sings on Heaven. “Thinkin of you/ Like a murmurin’ brook/ Curvin’ about you.” 

Country beats and instrumentation, in a possible callback to 2018’s ‘Be the Cowboy’, run through the album. The Frost tells a story of isolation after losing a best friend over a twangy waltz and amid this it’s fun to hear Mitski trying new things: a choir and strings dip in and out, with the closing bars of I’m Your Man sounding more like Benjamin Britten than North American indie.

Another differentiator between ‘The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We’ and its predecessors is that it lacks any real bangers. We are pulled from melancholy reflection to more melancholy reflection, and while the pace and scale varies throughout the album — reaching a climax with the grand organ backing of Star — her outlook is mostly subdued and reflective. 

This is only a disappointment as it’s something we know Mitski can do so well, as demonstrated on The Only Heartbreaker, a fizzing single from ‘Laurel Hell’. But this is certainly not a criticism of what this record brings to the table. Indeed, for a wander through the barren landscape of our souls, it’s hard to think of a better tour guide than Mitski’s forlorn voice and storytelling.

Mitski Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat October 07 2023 - EDINBURGH Queens Hall
Mon October 09 2023 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Wed October 11 2023 - LONDON Union Chapel

Compare & Buy Mitski Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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