Some artists are gifted with the talent to produce haunting records that stay with you long after you listen to them; albums that can bring a tear to your eye within the first few seconds of listening, melodies and lyrics that are cursed with your own background that manages to crawl it’s way up whenever you listen to them.
I’ve tried to make this list as universal as possible, but we all know that albums we find sad are going to be sadder than albums people tell us to find sad. This is open to suggestions via comments, which will be gratefully received. Nevertheless, if you find yourself feeling particularly gloomy one evening, why not try having a listen to one of these:
Indian Ink – Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia…
This 8 track long debut album, released in 2002, is really unlike anything else I’ve ever listened to. Formed by students of Oxford University, it’s quite odd to think that the band had such high expectations – being chosen to support Pulp at a concert in Birmingham, and reaching number 11 in John Peel’s festive 50 in 2001 with ‘Morning After Pill’. It’s upsetting how little information there is about this fascinating band, so honestly, I’d just say listen to the record. The ‘singing’ (well, spoken word by a woman with possibly the most eerie voice ever) is something you won’t forget in a while. Try Morning After Pill or Blindspot/Invisible Bend for a taster. This album isn’t on spotify, so I’d recommend buying it online, or downloading it from a mediafire link (tut tut). Just listen to it however you can.
The First Days Of Spring – Noah and the Whale
From the opening lyrics of “this is a song for anyone with a broken heart/this is a song for anyone who can’t get out of bed”, you can tell this album isn’t going to feature sunshine and rainbows. Based on Charlie Fink’s break up with Laura Marling, this album still remains accessible to absolutely anybody who’s ever been through a break up, or is going through one, or is contemplating one. And I think that’s pretty much all of us. The entire album is melancholy enough for the listener to feel truly engaged with Charlie’s feelings, yet towards the end of the record, there’s a glimpse of hope present in the songs. This is an album that’s essential to listen to in it’s full order. Don’t you dare shuffle it. There is also a short film to accompany the album, made entirely by the band themselves. Listen to it on spotify, or buy it in stores for a special edition including the film on dvd.
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
This album is a pretty obvious choice, but that doesn’t make it any less noteworthy. In Justin Vernon’s own words, “part of the trouble with the old haunting love, is that it fucks with your future loves, and can damn and/or ambush your relationships”, and isn’t he right? Justin Vernon’s voice is absolutely perfect, and the melodies, lyrics and entire atmosphere of this album could cause you to break down into tears within the first three minutes. Perfect for a miserable day where the world seems against you, this album won’t fail to make you feel slightly empty. Find this album on spotify, accompany it with rainymood and some chocolate and you’ll feel like an indie version of Bridget Jones. Probably.
Closer – Joy Division
Perhaps this isn’t such an obvious choice, but it’s definitely a contender, purely for the fact that it holds Ian Curtis’ last recorded songs, released two months after his suicide. The consistently bleak lyrics across the album hint at Curtis’ demise, and the entire album makes me want to get drunk and shout the lyrics at anyone in the close vicinity. But maybe that’s just me. The remastered 2007 version is even more intense to listen to. Songs I’d recommend include Isolation, Twenty Four Hours and Heart And Soul, where Curtis remarks “existence, well, what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can/the past is now part of my future. the present is well out of hand.” This album is highly recommended by many ‘Top Albums…’ lists by a range of different newspapers and blogs, and is definitely worth a listen. You’ll understand why it’s so highly rated.
Sigur Ros – Untitled / ()
This album is unique to the others on the list; purely for the fact that there are no definite lyrics. The album is written in ‘Hopelandic’; a language created by the band based on their Icelandic roots. However, the atmosphere created by this album is nothing short of spine-tingling. This album reeks beauty, and to particularly enjoy it, try watching 6am In New York, a short film by Carmen Vidal featuring the 4th Untitled song on the album. This album is perfect for winter walks or crying alone in the foetal position in bed*. Listen to this album on spotify, or if the songs particularly strike a chord deep within you, the physical copy of the album includes a blank lyric booklet for each person to scribble down their own lyrical interpretations of each song. Personally, I’m desperate to find more people who have done this so I can read their individual interpretations of the same songs.
(*I’d like to note that these reviews are definitely not based on my own personal experiences of listening to these albums. Definitely not.)