Mitski’s latest musical creation, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” is a sonic journey into the depths of American sentiment, released on September 15, 2023, under the Dead Oceans label. This marks her seventh studio album, and it carries a distinct, almost haunting aura, transcending mere music and delving into the heart of the American experience.
Intriguingly, Mitski herself has dubbed this album her “most American album,” and love takes center stage amidst its lyrical tapestry. This theme of love interweaves with influences from unexpected sources, including the enchanting sounds of spaghetti Western soundtracks and the artistic spirits of luminaries like Arthur Russell, Igor Stravinsky, Scott Walker, Caetano Veloso, and Faron Young.
The album’s recording took place in two diverse locales, adding to its unique flavor. Mitski joined forces with producer Patrick Hyland at both the Bomb Shelter in Nashville and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. This collaboration bore not only her singular voice but also the harmonious resonance of a 17-person choir arranged by Mitski herself. An orchestra, under the skilled baton of Drew Erickson, lent its grandeur to several tracks, elevating the album’s depth and complexity.
Mitski, ever the enigmatic artist, unveiled the album’s title and lead single, “Bug Like an Angel,” to her eager fans through her newsletter on July 23, 2023. Just a few days later, on July 26, this haunting single was released, accompanied by an evocative music video directed by Noel Paul, a visual complement to the ethereal soundscape of the song.
As anticipation mounted, Mitski dropped her second single, “Heaven,” on August 23, 2023. It debuted on BBC Radio 1’s “Future Sounds” alongside an enlightening interview with Mitski herself and the show’s presenter, Jack Saunders. Not content with one surprise, the third single, “Star,” graced our ears on the very same day.
Mitski, known for her intimate and captivating live performances, announced a series of concert dates in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and France, set for October 2023. These shows, while not a full-blown tour, promise an intimate setting where fans can savor the album without elaborate stage productions—a chance to bask in the raw emotion of Mitski’s music.
But before the tour, lucky fans were treated to an early taste of the album’s magic through a series of “double feature” listening events. These enchanting gatherings took place in theaters across the United States, London, and Australia on September 7, 2023. As the anticipation reaches its crescendo, an additional event is slated for Tokyo’s Cosmo Planetarium Shibuya on September 14, featuring a screening of a film personally selected by Mitski from a curated list that includes classics like “Days of Heaven” (1978), “Desert Hearts” (1985), “Drugstore Cowboy” (1989), or “La Strada” (1954).
And the critical reception? Well, it’s nothing short of extraordinary. Mitski’s “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” has garnered a Metacritic score of 91/100, an indication of “universal acclaim” based on seven critics’ reviews. Mojo aptly describes it as Mitski’s journey to happiness and her subtle acknowledgment of what comes after achieving it. Exclaim!’s Kaelen Bell characterizes it as a phoenix-like resurgence, a ghostly narrative, and an exploration of country music—a testament to Mitski’s versatility and introspection.
Eric Mason of Slant Magazine marvels at Mitski’s ability to craft profound, poetic aphorisms amidst her intricate metaphors. He notes that her capacity to pack emotional punches into a half-hour remains unparalleled, making each song an impactful experience. Rho Chung of The Skinny paints a picture of the album as a sweeping musical odyssey, exploring the facets of human existence and self-reflection, all while maintaining Mitski’s signature evocative storytelling.
In terms of its tracklist, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” offers a captivating journey through eleven thoughtfully crafted songs:
1. “Bug Like an Angel” (3:32)
2. “Buffalo Replaced” (2:40)
3. “Heaven” (3:44)
4. “I Don’t Like My Mind” (2:25)
5. “The Deal” (3:52)
6. “When Memories Snow” (1:44)
7. “My Love Mine All Mine” (2:18)
8. “The Frost” (2:48)
9. “Star” (2:59)
10. “I’m Your Man” (3:30)
11. “I Love Me After You” (2:49)
In these tracks, Mitski masterfully weaves her lyrical prowess, musical ingenuity, and emotional depth to create an album that’s not just a collection of songs but a profound exploration of the human experience.
In summary, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” is more than just an album; it’s an odyssey through American themes and emotions, guided by the enigmatic Mitski. With a lush blend of influences, ethereal production, and poignant lyricism, Mitski has crafted a masterpiece that resonates on a universal level. It’s an album that demands to be heard, felt, and experienced, and it’s bound to leave an indelible mark on both the listener’s heart and the music industry as a whole.