Mitski: The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We (Dead Oceans) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 27th, 2023  


The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We

Dead Oceans

Sep 14, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A breathtaking navigation of the musical map, underscored by a poetic tenderness in its exploration of love’s landscape, Mitski’s seventh album triumphs, from its gently strummed first chords to its effects pedal finale.

Mitski describes The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We as, “My most American album,” and the effects of her relocation to Nashville three years ago are discernible throughout. While 2022’s Laurel Hell leaned heavily on synths, The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We is laced through with pedal steel and violin. When her vocals chime in on “Buffalo Replaced” Mitski could be channelling Dolly Parton. The anguished “I Don’t Like My Mind” is a mix of good old-fashioned country heartbreak, piano, and slide guitar. The expanded scope of having an entire band on this recording sets it starkly apart from her previous albums. But the experience is no less intoxicating.

And the sound of Mitski herself under the influence is to be relished. The rhythmic acoustic guitar opening to “The Deal” puts the listener in mind of Johnny Marr; the melody to “When Memories Snow” even reimagines The Smiths’ “Sheila Take a Bow.” “My Love Mine All Mine” would not be inapposite on a Lana Del Rey record. And “I’m Your Man” is redolent of PJ Harvey at her rawest. To cap this, the closing track, “I Love Me After You,” climaxes in a euphoric fuzz of shoegaze guitar. Some might consider these arrangements out of place or, at worst, derivative. But The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We presents itself with musical probity and lyrical integrity. It’s an earnest attempt to decode the nature and value of love, often in its most difficult circumstances.

Imagery twinkles with mythology and magical realism, yet also with sublime moments of mundanity (the eponymous insect in addiction-themed “Bug Like an Angel”; the act of eating a whole cake to the point of sickness in “I Don’t Like My Mind”). The record resonates with a universality; it offers succour to the forlorn, the exhausted, and the hopeless. Yet, at times, it hits like a beam of healing light. On “My Love Mine All Mine” Mitski lilts, “My baby here on earth/Showed me what my heart was worth/So when it comes to be my turn/Could you shine it down here for her.”

“The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people,” explains Mitski. “I wish I could leave behind all the love I have after I die.” The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We is a gift of experience; a document of the duality of that love—the conflicts between hope and sorrow, devotion and subjugation, regret and reflection—and, in its attempt to define and explore the most universal of human experiences, it excels.

Mitski has not only created her most cohesive, accessible, musically diverse album yet, but also an arresting work of substantial beauty. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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