Mitski – “The Earth is Inhospitable and So Are We” (Dead Oceans)
Mitsuki Miyawaki is back – a year and a half after her critically acclaimed album ‘Laurel Hell’, its successor is now being released: ‘The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We’. The title of this album is initially in the same vein as its predecessor. “Laurel Hell” is named after the laurel plant that grows in bushes so dense that it is difficult for intruders to get out – which is also not particularly attractive. So it’s all as usual at Mitski? Not real.
Mitski’s “Most American Album”.
A lot has changed since their last album. It looks as if Mitski has put out the disco ball again. On “The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We” there are no recycled 80s dance moves and rarely any head nodding. To do this, he brings out the big guns and gets orchestral support in the arrangements. The poppy tightness of their latest songs is no longer an issue; Instead, epic performances in the true sense of the word have proliferated and the feeling creeps in that you have an enhanced soundtrack to an all-American hero epic à la Ennio Morricone.
The thoughtful music producer with Japanese American roots says of her work that it is her “most American album” to date. In fact, this suspicion has already been confirmed on opener “Bug Like an Angel”, which was previously released as a single. The acoustic guitar alone introduces the new album low and melancholy, and Mitski’s vocals above are reminiscent of Jason Molina’s early work and his songs: Oh Oh. But Mitski wouldn’t be Mitski if she didn’t have another surprise in store: “Family” A surprisingly large chorus with horns suddenly blaring out of nowhere in full stereo. Opener to wake you up. “Bug Like An Angel” showcases the musician’s evolving imagery from the beginning. Already in the first verse she presents the depressing daily life of a drinker and does not allow her audience to return to the here and now even after the end of the song, because that has a lasting effect: “There’s a bug like an angel/Stuck to the bottom of my glass, with little left.
Good dose country quotes
The character’s most popular impression was also acknowledged on the second track “Buffalo Replaced”, which served Mitski and her long-time producer Patrick Hyland as a reference voice for “The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We”. Deeply tuned acoustic guitars and heavy drums playing in the background will make your upper body shake. What is particularly interesting is the change in harmony in the chorus, which suddenly turns unexpectedly into a side street. “Heaven” debuts Mitski’s penchant for harmonizing her songs, which can also be found on previous albums. In the Rhineland region, you are likely to sway to this song because it can be counted as either 4/4 or 6/8 time. Also essential to the groove is the plucked double bass, whose line can also serve as the musical accompaniment for a journey into the sunset.
Traditional influences of folk and country often sound a bit corny to European ears. Especially when using an instrument like the pedal steel guitar. This doesn’t happen much on Mitski’s new album, but she still uses country quotes very tastefully. For example, in songs like “I Don’t Love My Mind,” where Mitski humorously describes the suffering of an overthinker and makes the protagonist eat a whole cake in order to console: “A whole cake, all for me / And then I get sick and throw up.” “My Love Mine All Mine,” which could easily have come from Dolly Parton — or Radiohead — also sounds like Nashville, where she recorded much of the album. Because with strings it wouldn’t be surprising if “I’m weird, I’m weird” suddenly came out of the speakers.
Mitski’s voice as a guide through the dark space
What Mitski also shares with Radiohead on this album is her admiration for Scott Walker, the American singer-songwriter who knew, like no other, how to enrich his songs with a layered orchestral sound. This is especially evident in tracks like “When Memories Fall” and “Star.” The first is initially somewhat reminiscent of a jazz standard, builds further and culminates in a magnificent finale with – literally – timpani and horns. Here the heroic saga of the Wild West comes into play. Prairie dust falls on the tongue. “The Star” is perhaps the most interesting song on the album, and has a menacing tone throughout the song: a deep growl, or so-called drone tone, that does not adjust to the harmonies and remains constant. Additionally, but very far away, are the simple drums and Mitski’s voice as a guide through the dark space: on the way to love, which has long since fled to a distant star.
Mitski’s new album ‘The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We’ is a sleeper. But when he wakes up, he does so with excess energy. It’s rarely loud, but when it is, it’s shrill and shrill. As is the case with the final devotional track “I Love Me After You,” in which Mitski once again manages to sing surprising melodic lines over traditional harmony structures. Unlike “Laurel Hell,” it barely makes any headway into pop music with its new long-player. Instead, it offers many endearing details – an album to listen to. It remains to be seen whether the songs from this record will manage to spread on social media like many of their songs have done in the past. If not, at least it can’t be because of their quality.
Release date: September 15, 2023
Tag: dead oceans
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