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Mitski’s new album haunts listeners in the best of ways

Mitskis+new+album%2C+The+Land+is+Inhospitable+and+So+Are+We%2C+is+a+hauntingly+religious+album+that+describes+the+complexities+of+romantic+relationships.+
Reset Era
Mitski’s new album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” is a hauntingly religious album that describes the complexities of romantic relationships.

2023 has been an outstanding year for fans of indie singer-songwriters and bands. From boygenius’ album “the record” to Big Thief’s recent release of two new singles, and now the album “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” by Mitski, listeners have been met with some of the best music of the year. Released Sept. 15, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” stands out from the singer-songwriter’s other discography. 

The album is both cinematic and intimate. There is a folky twang to the instrumentals, written by Drew Erickson, that work beautifully with her haunting lyrics and a beautiful, soft Southern Gothic undertone that permeates the album. Mitski herself currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, which may be one of the influences to this indie singer-songwriter version of Southern Gothic. The album is filled with religious imagery. Listening to the album feels like taking a slow walk through an abandoned church or a Southern cemetery. 

Every album by Mitski has a distinct feel. While the singer-songwriter does not limit herself to one sound, deep emotions and a sense of melancholic loneliness permeate her discography. Mitski is never afraid to openly and poetically discuss mental health. The first track on the album, “Bug Like an Angel,” begins with “There’s a bug like an angel stuck to the bottom / Of my glass, with a little bit left / As I got older, I learned I’m a drinker / Sometimes, a drink feels like family.”

In the final verse, Mitski concludes her opening track with “When I’m bent over wishin’ it was over / Makin’ all variety of vows I’ll never keep / I try to remember the wrath of the devil / Was also given him by God.” There can be a double meaning to this verse with the word “bent.” In this case, it could be used to depict someone bent over, possibly throwing up because of alcohol consumption. It could also depict someone bent over in a prayer position. The mixture of religious imagery with an assumed depiction of alcoholism adds a poetic sense to the lyrics.

This religious imagery can also be found throughout the album’s other tracks, especially in the fifth track of the album, “The Deal,” which depicts the concept of someone selling their soul to the devil or a demon. The interesting thing about this depiction is that the speaker does not seem to want anything in return; they simply just want to get rid of their soul. Mitski sings, “I want someone to take this soul / I can’t bear to keep it, I’d give it just to give / And all I will take are the consequences / Will somebody take this soul?” There is a desperation both in these lyrics and her singing that is absolutely haunting. The raw power and pain in her voice, mixed with these confessional lyrics feels almost cinematic.

One of the standout tracks on the album is “I’m Your Man,” a piece that is truly full of religious undertones and imagery. The song opens with the lines “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 depicts an intense love in which both partners can be compared to both dogs and spiritual beings. The speaker worships their lover, comparing them to an angel and then follows by comparing them to a dog. The speaker’s lover believes in them “like a god” worshiping them right back. With the line “I destroy you like I am,” Mitski brings images of biblical wrath to describe the intense relationship depicted in the song. The track closes with a soft fade out accompanied by sampling of nature sounds like crickets chirping and dogs barking. This sampling of various audios can also be heard in the final track of “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” which closes with a haunting recording that sounds and feels like someone walking through an old, abandoned church, partially falling apart.

Listening to “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” feels like sitting on a porch at night, looking up at the moon and listening to the sound of distant melodies and fiddles. The feeling and distinct sound of this album cannot be found in any of Mitski’s discography. It is a gem and a magnum opus. Mitski prays, talks and pleads with God in “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We and listeners will have no other choice than to worship this new album like gospel.

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