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Released: 2023

Label: Dead Oceans

In the rich tapestry of pop music, few artists embody its evocative and transformative power quite like Mitski. Her studio album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” released by Dead Oceans in 2023, is a testament to her formidable talent and far-reaching impact. This album carries Mitski’s signature amalgamation of influences, incorporating elements of punk, folk, and the avant-garde to create a mesmerizing earworm of a record.

With tracks like “Bug Like an Angel”, “Buffalo Replaced”, and “Heaven”, it charts a narrative of introspection and struggle, of love lost and found, all set to Mitski’s hauntingly beautiful melodies. Her storytelling prowess comes to the fore in songs like “I Don’t Like My Mind” and “When Memories Snow,” while the chilling nuances of “My Love Mine All Mine” and “The Frost” reflect her ability to blend the personal with the universal.

In expecting the unexpected from Mitski, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” adds two more layers to our anticipation: “Star” and “I’m Your Man”. The album concludes with the powerful “I Love Me After You,” a poignant reminder of Mitski’s ability to break your heart and piece it back together in the span of one song.

So let’s get into it. From “Bug Like an Angel” to “I Love Me After You,” here we are breaking down the album “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” by Mitski.

1 Bug Like an Angel

The line, “As I got older, I learned I’m a drinker/Sometimes a drink feels like family,” pierces through, revealing a deep-seated sense of isolation and bond with the bottle, illuminating a poignant, and at times, painful juxtaposition. It’s that raw honesty coming through the lyrics that sets Mitski apart. When she sings, “Did you go and make promises you can’t keep? Well, when ya break them, they break you right back”, it isn’t just a lament. It’s a lesson—and a sharp one at that. The haunted tone of the song underscores the hollow promise of comfort found in destructive coping mechanisms, and Mitski isn’t afraid to lay bare the harsh realities therein.

2 Buffalo Replaced

When she murmurs, “Mosquitoes can enjoy me, I can’t go inside / I’m suckin’ up as much of the full moon, so bright”, it’s like she’s lassoing her restlessness, feeling caged in by her circumstances. But the kicker? “Freight train stampedin’ through my backyard / It’ll run across the plains like the new buffalo replaced.” This poignant line captures the overarching melancholy, effectively fusing the past and present, memories displaced by the relentless march of time. She speaks to the paradox of seeking solace in isolation while yearning for elusive freedom. She gives a nod to the fleeting nature of existence, using the evocative imagery of a freight train, reminiscent of the buffalo that once roamed the plains, replaced now by the inexorable progression of human civilization. Introspective, poetic, melancholic – Mitski does it again.

3 Heaven

The line “That rings out a note heard in heaven” embodies this. A powerful lyric, no doubt, not only nods to a love so profound that it reverberates beyond the earthly plane, but also to the raw emotions this song provokes. In an enticing ebb and flow, she navigates through the complexities of an intimate relationship. The lines, “Now I bend like a willow thinking of you, Like a murmuring brook curving about you,” further illuminate the depth of her feelings. But Mitski isn’t just concerned with personal narratives. She stretches beyond that as seen in, “the dark awaits us all around the corner.” This line reveals an existential thread – an acknowledgement of the existence of darkness but a choice to linger in the fleeting sanctuary they’ve found. “Heaven” exposes the potency of Mitski’s songwriting, brewing a sublime concoction of celestial love, philosophical introspection, and tangible emotions, all within a single song.

4 I Don’t Like My Mind

The line, “So, yeah, I blast music loud, and I work myself to the bone” captures a sense of fear and disdain towards solitude and confrontation of her own thoughts. It hints at her turning to noise and hard work as distractions from her internal torment. The ‘inconvenient Christmas’ anecdote underscores this – how she indulges in an entire cake alone, only to purge it later. This gut-wrenching metaphor lends itself to the song’s brutal exploration of self-loathing and struggle with identity. The poignant plea, “A whole cake, so please don’t take, Take this job from me,” symbolizes her need for her music, her work – a lifeline in the throes of her mental struggle – a powerful testament to the role of art in managing and understanding our own minds.

5 The Deal

It’s a midnight amble revealing a lonely spirit, hungry for a connection yet haunted by its implications. The striking line, “I want someone to take this soul / I can’t bear to keep it,” poignantly encapsulates the singer’s yearning to unburden herself. But, as the echoes of the preceding silence painfully illustrate, there’s no instant redemption. The song unfurls into the latter half, where it’s not Mitski but a bird that sings her song – “Now I’m taken, the night has me”. It’s a sober moment of realization that even in striving to lose herself in another, Mitski is but a caged bird in the endless night. To wrap it up is the haunting refrain, “There’s a deal that I made,” a chilling testament to the high price of solitude.

6 When Memories Snow

The lyrics serve as bittersweet imagery, reminiscent of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and bemoan the grueling nature of mental labor manifested in the physical task of shoveling snow. “I shovel all those memories/Clear the path to drive to the store,” she sings, the mundane act of heading to the store held hostage by the grasp of the past. However, it’s the introspective query, “And if I break, could I go on break?” that steals the show, merging the personal and professional realms in an exploration of mental health. The unending applause in the backdrop, for the unnamed speeches, builds a stark picture of loneliness and the silent struggles beneath the limelight.

7 My Love Mine All Mine

She draws upon the luminescent image of the moon, as a beacon of permanence amidst life’s transience, with lines like “Moon, a hole of light/Through the big top tent up high.” Here, she seems to grapple with the universal inevitability of death, pledging her heart to the celestial body for safekeeping, encapsulated in “So, when I die, which I must do/Could it shine down here with you?” Equally heartrending is her assertion of self-love and ownership in the chorus, belting out “‘Cause my love is mine, all mine/I love mine, mine, mine,” a profound acknowledgement of an unflinching self-devotion in a world that offers no freebies. The title echoes the lyric, spotlighting a love not just possessed, but wholeheartedly embraced.

8 The Frost

“The frost, it looks / Like dust settled on the world / After everyone’s long been gone” she sings, waxing poetic about her newly found isolation in a world devoid of warmth. The pithy lyric “Now the world is mine alone / With no one, no one / To share the memory of frost” is a sledgehammer to the heart. It’s a stark reminder of shared experiences and the absence that now pervades them. Lastly, the line, “You’re my best friend / Now I’ve no one to tell / How I lost my best friend” speaks the universal heartbreak of losing not just a lover, but also a soulmate and confidante. It serves as the epitome of a shattered romance where the one who once filled your world is no longer in it.

9 Star

The linchpin of the song is the stirring analogy, “That love is like a star / It’s gone, we just see it shining / ‘Cause it’s travelled very far.” This metaphor reveals both the ephemeral essence of romantic attachment and our human instinct to hold onto its vestiges. This lyrical thread spins a narrative of a love that once burned bright now dimmed, but its luminosity is still a comforting light in the vast expanse of loneliness. Mitski also gives a nod to the bitter-sweet solitariness in the poignant confession: “You know I’d always been alone / ‘Till you taught me / To live for somebody.” “Star” not just delineates the ending of something beautiful, but also the resilience in remembering and preserving its remnants.

10 I’m Your Man

Here, Mitski invites us into her world of self-conflict that grapples with the idea of divine love and human betrayal. The admission of undeservingness and the anticipation of abandonment lay bare the contrasting characters Mitski sees in herself – the divine, the man, and the undeserving dog. In the echo of “I’ll betray you like a man,” we discern the anguish of self-inflicted perception of both deity and devil, a masterstroke of lyrical self-awareness that cements Mitski as a colossal talent in the contemporary pop landscape.

11 I Love Me After You

Mitski articulates a familiar struggle, yet infuses a unique triumph in the aftermath of heartbreak. The verse, “Brushing my hair naked, Spritz my face with toner, Splash water on my neck, I’m laughing in the mirror” is a jubilant declaration of re-establishing self-care and gaining self-esteem. The pivotal repetition of “I love me after you, King of all the land” is not just a bold acceptance of solitude but a coronation of self-sovereignty. Striding through the house naked, letting the darkness see her, asserting the streets and the night as her own – Mitski’s lyrics implant an image of liberation and self-reclamation. It’s refreshingly honest, a striking tribute to newfound confidence and autonomy in the face of residual heartache.

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