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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Richmond is notable for its music scene, so when a local record store shared on Instagram that it would be hosting a listening party for Mitski’s new album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, I immediately signed up. 

The advanced preview of the record was hosted by the book and record store Small Friend Records & Books on Lombardy Street. They are a small but mighty woman-owned bookstore that focuses on “the radical, weird, and obscure.” I personally love what they stand for and always walk out of the store with something cool to read. 

Decorated in a plethora of posters and signs that read “the people’s library” and “voted worst record store in Richmond.” Small Friend is for the people, how can you not love it?

The store is small but always cozy. It feels like you’re at your friend’s basement whose parents know you’re smoking down there but are cool with it. They’re just chill like that; Small Friend is chill like that. 

At the listening party, we’re each given an orange wristband with the album title printed on it. There are nametags sporting the same orange and free posters with the album art on them. Everyone claims their space around a table, in chairs around the shop, or even sitting on the floor, criss-cross applesauced ready for Mitski. 

Then, it begins. The room is silent aside from a rather loud air conditioning unit but you can’t help but be grateful in this heat. Everyone listens intently, each on their own journey, but still connected through the soft melodic music. Some people are taking notes, others just rock their heads to the beat of the drums, but most wear a small smile. I sit beside my friend listening, but also observing. I wonder what this all feels like to them; I wonder what this means to them. 

To me, it feels like this: 

She opens up the album by taking your hand, slowly you begin to dance. Spinning out, almost like ice skating, only there is no ground; you’re floating. But then you’re falling, and it’s scary, but you slowly start to enjoy it; you appreciate falling. You land in a meadow with soft guitar playing as you go to sleep longing for someone. Strings play, waking you up to action and feel like running, like you have to run. Dogs are barking, almost crying, running until you slow to a walk when you reach an edge ready to fall. 

That is what it was like listening to this record in one go, at least to me. It’s a beautiful album filled with a softness but also a sharpness. Mitski loves her horns and strings and I love her for it. 

Natalie Pineda is an English and Creative Writing student. She loves reading and writing is her passion. She enjoys stories written by women for women. Romcoms are her genre of choice and appreciates the art of indie movies.