With her heart-wrenching lyrics and mellow voice, singer-songwriter Mitski has become a household name for indie fans, bringing listeners both comfort and pain over the beauty of her relatable songs. Her most recent album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” is Mitski’s most mature work yet, evident in its meaningful lyricism, clever themes and exceptional sound production.
Mitski’s albums have been masterful in the past due to their consistent themes and sounds, and her newest is no exception. The artist herself says in her Spotify bio that “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is her “most American album yet,” a statement that any fan would agree with. Unique sounds, not present in her previous albums, set this album apart from her other discography, namely a Western feel, as if the listener is a cowboy exploring vast expanses themselves. Of course, her song is not about America itself – rather, she uses the frontier as a symbol for her feelings of disconnection from the world. She stands out as a musician in this regard; while most mainstream artists will just say their feelings, Mitski makes the listener feel them through a thorough description of the world around her. Her lyrics, without any music, could be considered high-class poetry. Across her album, the Old West serves as the environment her lyrics and sound mix in and give shape to her feelings, a genius musical decision.
Mitski’s older songs generally explore themes of self-doubt and discomfort with change, while the new album contains more positive and comforting lyrics. The work is tied together by love – and not always the romantic kind. Listening to “My Love Mine All Mine,” one might assume the song is an ode to a lover. However, “Nothing in the world belongs to me, but my love, mine all mine,” refers to Mitski’s love for everything – all the people in her life and the sheer joy of existence – as the one thing she will always own. The song “I Love Me After You,” one of the best tracks from the album, may seem self-deprecating until you move past the title and listen to the song. Mitski does not mean that she loves herself less than her partner – rather, she loves the feeling of who she is, “king of all the land,” after time spent with her lover. Of course, Mitski isn’t entirely Mitski without at least one painfully relatable song. “I Don’t Like My Mind” contains the frustration and pain explored in her previous albums, showing that healing and self-acceptance is a bumpy and rough road.
The album would not have been such a masterpiece without the high-quality sound production that makes each song deep and layered. Each instrument, each chord and each beat all mix together into warm, melodious sounds that feel more mature than any of Mitski’s albums thus far. The ending of “I’m Your Man” features a choir harmonizing in a haunting way as they sing “yo-ho,” like pirates of the long gone past. This small addition, along with the sound of crickets chirping in the background, takes the listener to a whole different world.
“The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is Mitski’s most developed album; whether long-time fans of her agree or disagree with that statement, it remains clear that she has poured her heart into this work. Though indie fans will without a doubt enjoy the album, fans of all genres should give Mitski’s new album a listen, as you never know what beauty you can uncover within her vivid imagining of the Old West.