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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Criticism: Mitksi’s ‘The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We’

Photo by David Lee/WikiCommons

Art Critic Emma Ehle says “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is hauntingly beautiful, with Mitski expressing a peaceful melancholia that is sure to stick with fans.

Rating: 8/10

Here is an important rule of thumb for emerging alt-rock enthusiasts everywhere: if Mitski Miyawaki says “the land is inhospitable and so are we,” it is, and we are. I’ve found that it’s truly best not to argue with or question the lyrical genius of an artist capable of shattering your heart in three minutes flat. 

Shortly after rumors regarding the imminent retirement of beloved singer-songwriter Mitksi began to surface online, a seventh studio album arrived to quiet the voices. “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” (2023) Mitski’s newest project, was released on Friday, Sept. 15, and it is already beginning to cause intense emotional crises amongst fans. 

The album, which differs greatly from the more upbeat 1980s synth-pop sound of her most recent project, “Laurel Hell” (2022), is equal parts quiet, contemplative, peaceful and emotionally deafening. It is simultaneously self-deprecating and self-assured, tumultuous and harmonious, all while packing a mean indie-girl punch in the most bizarrely melancholic manner possible. Simply put, it is all the complexity and confusion of human emotion expressed in only 32 minutes. 

In terms of initial standouts, “I Don’t Like My Mind,” “The Deal” and “My Love is Mine All Mine” appear to have already emerged as steadfast fan favorites. A cruel yet beautiful mental-illness anthem, “I Don’t Like My Mind” features Mitski’s haunting wail as she describes the uncomfortable inhospitality of existing within the four walls of her own mind. While this is a topic that could easily be labeled trite or overdone if executed poorly, Mitski once again hits the nail square on the head, mercilessly taunting herself about how on one “inconvenient Christmas,” she ate an entire cake, vomited and then chastised herself for it for years to come. Whether or not this tale is true or exists merely as a plot point for the song, it gets the point of ruthless self-deprecation and relentless thought across perfectly. 

Similarly — and equally if not more devastating — “The Deal” expresses a level of dissatisfaction with one’s self that will make you want to have a sit-down talk with Mitski’s therapist (there’s absolutely no way she doesn’t have one). Utilizing an anecdote that revolves around the making of a deal for someone to take her soul, the ferocity of this song lies not in the loss of the soul, but in the idea that existing with it is such a burden on the narrator’s life that she would rather be ride of her entire being. The soul, while an abstract idea, is painfully tangible here, creating the feeling of a desperate desire to lose the entire essence of one’s self. 

Turning sharply from this intensely harsh introspect, “My Love Is Mine All Mine” focuses on one’s self in a completely different fashion. Expressing the deep love and appreciation that Mitski holds for her own love and the power that it holds, “My Love Is Mine All Mine” is not only bewitching but utterly fascinating, expressing a self-assured peace of mind that simultaneously exudes a subtle yearning and somber attitude. 

While these are only several notable standouts, other phenomenal tracks from the album include “The Frost,” “I’m Your Man” and “Bug Like an Angel,” a stunning single that was released back in late July. 

Ultimately, the beauty and pure genius of “The Land is Inhospitable” lies in the complexity of its lyrical and sonic fabric. It is not a “sad album” or a “happy album,” or really any piece of work that can be summed up by a single word, but rather something that is mature, lawless and intensely introspective. It is an incredible look into the mind of a 32-year-old woman grappling with her own existence and humanity, and one can only hope that this is not the end of her stunning discography. 

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