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Review: The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

Yesterday at The Village East by Angelika, an arthouse movie theater near NYC's Union Square, I had the pleasure of attending a listening party for Mitski's upcoming album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. I had such a great time and wanted to recount my memories here while they're fresh.

I was surprised to enter the actual theater to find a domed ceiling and chandelier, red plush seats, and other markings of a bygone era. It felt more like a traditional theater, like at the opera or a ballet, only with a huge projector screen and cupholders between the seats (it's still a movie theater, after all). It reminded me of Kings Theater in Flatbush, Brooklyn, but on a smaller scale. There was a palpable energy I felt entering the room, like when you visit a church or stand in front of a great painting. Seriously, what a treat to be able to experience Mitski's new album for the first time here.

I wasn't sure if any visuals would accompany the album. At first, I thought it might feel awkward or boring just staring into the darkness in a theater full of strangers who are also just staring into the darkness, but I should have just trusted Mitski. I'm so glad there weren't any visuals to distract me, because it meant I could listen more closely to all the complex and layered instrumentation in the album. What I love about Mitski's discography is that it always feels like she's willing to try something new as an artist. Some albums are more orchestral, while others are stripped down and raw... This album featured a mix of both. I really loved it; I can't wait to spend more time with it. Sometimes I have trouble processing lyrics at first listen, so I'm looking forward to getting a closer read on what are likely some devastating and transcendent bars.

Following the album - on the shorter side at 35 minutes - Mitski selected the 1985 seminal lesbian film Desert Hearts for screening. I enjoyed it and I'm glad I've now seen this piece of history. The whole thing felt like such an event of culture! I'm so glad I went.