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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | Lyrical genius Mitski strikes again in new album release

“This Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” musically sets a depressing tone for the fall season.
USA Today
Indie pop phenom Mitski makes her first appearance at The Moon in early April.

With the cool scent of autumn in the air, now is the perfect time for Mitski’s newest heart-wrenching album.

“This Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” was released on Sept. 15. It might be a mouthful of a title, but it’s Mitski. The title perfectly foreshadows the deep and dark themes explored throughout the 11-track album.

But this isn’t the sound of Mitski I’ve loved before. The album feels like an entirely different genre of music than what she has previously released. It is much less of her traditional indie rock sound and much more of a traditional American folk sound.

The single “Bug Like an Angel” opens the album, released early on July 26 before the rest of the album’s songs. It lyrically battles addiction with melodic guitars and dissonant vocals.

“Buffalo Replaced” was next. With instrumentals reminiscent of her older albums, this song serves as a metaphor of the spread of capitalism, using the American symbol of the buffalo in the title to serve as a paradox. The chorus “Freight train stampedin’ through my backyard /  It’ll run across the plains like the new buffalo replaced” is nostalgic for a “time before,” yearning for peace and solitude in an environment that contradicts it.

Next is “Heaven,” also released before the album, which opens with a steel guitar and hymnal vocals that depict a broken romantic relationship. At first listen it’s a little sleepy, but the lyrics are haunting with Mitski saying her cries for help can be heard from heaven.

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“I Don’t Like My Mind” is my absolute favorite on this album, depicting the inner conflict of self-loathing and burnout due to depression. The instrumentals are beyond haunting, and I was sobbing uncontrollably during my first listen.

“I work myself to the bone / And on an inconvenient Christmas, I eat a cake. / A whole cake, all for me” is quite the tear-jerking lyric, relatably loathing holidays with family, friends, and self.”

The lyrics continue with “And then I get sick and throw up and there’s another memory that gets stuck / Inside the walls of my skull, waiting for its turn to talk,” reminding the listener there is no escape from the past, no matter the effort.

Next, “The Deal.” It is not just haunting, but almost disturbing, telling the story of selling the speaker’s soul to demonic powers. I continued sobbing through this song with chorus lyrics that read “I want someone to take this soul / I can’t bear to keep it, I’d give it just to give / And all I will take are the consequences / Will somebody take this soul?”

“When Memories Snow” is shocking with what I would consider a jump-scare halfway through. Combined with nearly cinematic production, this song belongs in a horror film.

“My Love Mine All Mine” is a love song to the moon that mellows the vibe with the lyrics “Moon, tell me if I could send up my heart to you?” Mitski creates an allegory where the moon tells her to love herself: “‘Cause my love is mine, all mine.”

“The Frost” feels like I accidentally played a soft Willie Nelson song with gorgeously warm steel guitars but cold lyrics speaking about isolation. This juxtaposition is confusing but welcome.

“Star” was released with “Heaven” on Aug. 23, and it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album. The instrumentals are incredibly cinematic and don’t really feel like a song, but more of a score. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great but confusing.

“I’m Your Man” is second to last on the album, darkly apologizing for not being loveable.

“I Love Me After You” follows, concluding the album on a bright note. It almost feels like Mitski said “I’m so sorry for the emotional damage I caused. Do some self-care, girly.”

I loved this album. Though it’s not like Mitski’s typical sound, her voice and talent are incomprehensible to me. I will be crying to this album in a corner with my tissues all autumn.

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About the Contributor
Zhenya Loughney
Zhenya Loughney, Arts Reporter
Zhenya is a fourth year theatre design and journalism double major at UI. They are passionate about artistry and creativity. They are from Lebanon, KY.