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A Guide to Mitski’s New Album


Mitski Miyawaki, a popular Japanese-American singer-songwriter of the alternative and indie-rock genre, released her seventh album called The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We this past September 15th. With eleven tracks and thirty-two minutes of lyrical genius, she calls it her most American album yet, exploring a range of heavy topics unified by the theme of love—all realities of love, including that of the swoon-worthy as well as therapy-worthy type.  A refreshing exception to modern mainstream music that tends to sacrifice lyrical depth for simple, irritatingly catchy choruses, Mitski’s work is poetically complex. In order to properly experience her music, you must understand her numerous metaphors and symbolic instrumental backings; therefore, I have analyzed five profound tracks from her masterpiece of an album:

“Bug Like an Angel” – Starting off slow and acoustic, Mitski opens with the line “There’s a bug like an angel stuck to the bottom of the glass,” immediately revealing the song’s focus on alcoholism, a prominent issue in America. Looking up at their glass from below, the narrator’s distorted perspective of a bug as an angel symbolizes an alcoholic’s unhealthy perspective of alcohol as a saving grace. The transition to the chorus is abrupt and powerful, introducing a choir to back up Mitski (continuing the religious allusions) and she sings “sometimes a drink feels like a family,” commenting on how substance abuse often stands as a dangerous coping mechanism. 

“Buffalo Replaced” – This track is dominated by a strong steady beat and heavy strumming that almost overwhelms the listener, therefore reflecting the theme of overwhelming change. Mitski sings that “fireflies [are] zoomin’ through the yard like highway cars” while “freight trains [are] stampedin’ through my backyard,” painting a vivid representation of feeling out of control and detached, surrounded by chaotic change. The title and chorus describing a “buffalo replaced” perhaps alludes to the Westward Expansion in which white settlers traveled west and depleted the bison (known incorrectly as buffalo) population to push back indigenous, making their land inhospitable and signaling a change in the dominance in the Central Plains of America. 

“My Love Mine All Mine” – TikTok viral for good reason, the track is slow-paced with a steady, uniform drum throughout the entirety of the song that creates a seamless flow into what I consider as the strongest chorus on the album. The calm, longing song is an ode to the moon, to whom she wishes to give her love so that it can shine down on Earth indefinitely. The track ultimately celebrates taking ownership of one’s ability to love when nothing else feels permanent or concretely your own. In writing the song, she told Genius interviewers that “there’s a cost for everything, except for love.”

“Star” – Supported by the incorporation of an organ playing on top, this track provides an optimistic view that love is eternal and sacred. A star is used as a metaphor for love because even if it is far away and hard to see, it still shines through and offers light, just like a distant love lost to time is never truly gone. Growing in intensity, the vocals conclude with the line “Keep a leftover light / Burnin’ so you can keep lookin’ up / Isn’t that worth holdin’ on?” Overall, Mitski highlights that loving others is worth living for. 

“I’m Your Man” – In this acoustic track, Mitski sings from the perspective of the man in her head, confronting the reality that living in a patriarchal society can influence one’s mind to treat oneself and others in a way that upholds this system. After the line “I’ll meet judgment by the hounds,” the sound of dogs howling, crickets chirping, and a toad screaming—eerily resembling that of a human’s—form the outro, symbolizing that she is found guilty of upholding patriarchal standards. 

Not analyzed but equally as deserving of a listen on The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We are “Heaven,” “I Don’t Like My Mind,” “The Deal,” “When Memories Snow,” “The Frost,” and “I Love Me After You.”

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