Mitski: “Bug Like an Angel”

No one writes dejection quite like Mitski, for whom resignation can be the subject of sparkling disco-pop, a genius anthemic chorus, or an intimate confession. On “Bug Like an Angel,” the first single from the forthcoming album The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, Mitski revisits this sensation, once again assuming the posture of a clear-eyed sage nursing an age-old wound.

“Bug Like an Angel” starts in a strikingly minimalist space: just Mitski’s voice and an acoustic guitar, narrating the loneliness at the bottom of a bottle. “Sometimes a drink feels like family,” she sighs, and in a moment of solidarity, that final word is echoed by a choir. Mitski sings of broken promises and their attendant consequences: “Amateur mistake,” she warns, “you can take it from me.” She’s been there, but she’s no sucker. A Mitski song is aware that pleasure and pain—or self-respect and self-destruction, or company and isolation—are rarely a clear binary. She tucks this paradox into the song’s final lines, whose cosmic significance is underscored by an emotionless, nearly whispered delivery: “I try to remember,” she sings in a voice both foreboding and comforting, “the wrath of the devil/Was also given him by God.”