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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Pictured is the Gabrielino High School Debate team after competing at National qualifiers. Photo courtesy of Gabrielino Speech & Debate.
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‘The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We’ brings warm, organic love to life

AMERICAN LOVE Mitski’s seventh studio album returns to her traditional indie production style with a touch of American Folk sounds.

   Released on Sept. 15 by Mitski Miyawaki , “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is a hauntingly gorgeous culmination of all the reasons I am glad Mitski has reconsidered retirement time and time again. Quashing rumors of another retirement after her 2022 album “Laurel Hell”, her seventh studio album returns with a stripped down, emotionally raw approach to making music – emblematic of what makes Mitski, Mitski.    Unlike the experimental synthy, electronic rock of “Laurel Hell”, “This Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” returns to a style of production and lyricism more closely aligned to Mitski’s older discography, with her soft vocals and distinct piano and guitar taking center stage. Self-described as her “most American album”, it draws from classic wild west Americana imagery with cowboys and buffalos in a reconciliation of her Japanese American identity and what it means to be American.

   “The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people,” Mitski explained in an interview with DORK . “I wish I could leave behind all the love I have, after I die, so that I can shine all this goodness, all this good love that I’ve created onto other people.”

   Love to Mitski is a spectrum of sound, and though the album may feel stripped down, it is by no means quiet – best exemplified in the very first track, “Bug Like an Angel”, The song rueful from the start, and though it begins with Mitski’s soft tone and  guitar strumming about broken promises and touches of alcoholism to wash down regret. It is not long until it explodes with sound as a 17 person gospel chorus joins her on a single word – “family.” The sudden shift is the kind of impact that feels like resurfacing for air after being underwater for too long, noise no longer muffled by the pressure of the water and ripped loose in the air.

   Though the religious allusions of “Bug Like an Angel” step foot into American culture, it is not until the second track, “Buffalo Replaced”, that Mitski stampedes into heavy Americana imagery with lines like: “Freight train horn howlin’ out mad and wild / Headin’ somewhere far away like the new buffalo replaced.” One of my two favorite tracks in this album, I was as blown away by the intense, captivating instrumental as I was in the previous track. The loud guitar strumming with a steady drum beat evocative of stomping hooves in the dirt and hammers striking iron nails as the buffalo are replaced by the wild horns of freight trains.

   The second to last track completes a trifecta of what I viewed as the songs touching most on the American experience, leaning heavier into allusions to religion than “Bug Like an Angel” does. “I’m Your Man” starts with Mitski singing: “You’re an angel, I’m a dog / Or you’re a dog and I’m your man” to dive deeper into the complicated landscape of relationships. I found this to be one of the heavier songs on the track, speaking of relationship dynamics through the lens of divinity and mutts. 

   Mitski’s work with an orchestra shines through in tracks like “Heaven”, “The Frost”, and “Star” that highlight the artist’s vocals. The joyous, upbeat solos that contrast the usual, lamenting tone of Mitski expresses the multifaceted nature of what love means to her – in the sense that it is both capable of longing hurt and freeing healing. 

   Where Mitski’s love is on full display is when she begins the seventh track, “My Love Mine All Mine”, with jazzy, quiet brass and instrumental; It solidified itself as my favorite track the moment I heard the swaying, soft rhythm of Mitski’s voice. Lyrics like “Nothing in the world belongs to me / But my love mine, all mine, all mine” creates a slow dance of intimacy between her love and herself. Even when left with the emptiness of songs dealing with loss like “Bug Like an Angel” and “The Frost”, Mitski still holds onto the goodness of her love like a steady rock amidst the chaos.  

   “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” argues against its own title, instead proving that we are capable of letting others into our guarded hearts. It is a must listen album of identity and love, especially for fans who resonate most with her older discography.

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About the Contributor
Brian Ly, Production Chief
Brian Ly is the Production Chief for the Tongva Times and is entering his fourth year with the paper. In his personal life, Brian has a keen interest in insects, collectible card games, books, and movies. He even aspires to raise his own "Gregor Samsas" when he finds the right environment. Interestingly, Brian initially joined the newspaper in his freshman year, mistaking it for a history class due to the presence of a textbook. Despite the unexpected start, he remained with the Tongva Times, drawn by the strong sense of community and the chance to interact with diverse individuals, from school athletes to the mayor of San Gabriel.
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