Listening through the tough times

by Kevin Smead

Face it: Breakups suck. Even the ones that seem as if they might turn out OK usually don’t. And although it’s easy to get down in the dumps thinking about lost love, some find a way out of that negative-Nancy mindset. Some eat and others watch sappy, romantic movies. Occasionally, we do things we later regret. Then there are those who find it helpful to listen to music to help fight off the ever-encroaching bummer of losing their significant other. For those confused about where to begin, this list may be a good starting point toward healing.

“Sea Change,” Beck. One of Beck’s more melancholy albums, “Sea Change” deals with the theme of heartache head-on, mixing Beck’s low monotone vocals with haunting acoustic and slide guitar. Songs such as “Golden Age” and “Guess I’m Doing Fine” evoke images of walking down a rain-soaked sidewalk with your hands in your coat pocket, dripping wet. “Sea Change” is comforting, because even when you feel like no one else gets you, Beck does.

“Your Favorite Weapon,” Brand New. While primarily known for its middle two albums, “Deja Entendu” and “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me,” Brand New’s 2001 debut was 12 songs based on front man Jesse Lacey’s breakups and the heartaches that came after. Tracks such as “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” and “Last Chance to Lose Your Keys” totally get the whole awkward post-breakup thing. Though many prefer its more mature recent albums, this chronicle of teenage angst is a breakup classic.

“Only Way to Be Alone,” Good Old War. At first listen, Good Old War’s three-part harmonies and catchy hooks will pull you in. However, listen to it again to discover an album about rejection, struggle and acceptance. Good Old War’s more mellow sound and simple-yet-relatable lyrical style is perfect for putting you in the right mindset to move beyond the breakup, and onto bigger and better things.

“21,” Adele. Oh, girl. Let me tell you something right now. Whoever made Adele feel that way has sure got it coming to him. Every song on this album is a heart-wrenching tale told with the most beautiful of voices. You may think this is just one for the ladies, but dudes, trust me. Give this a listen, and let the healing begin.

“Pinkerton,” Weezer. When the first track of an album is “Tired of Sex,” you know you’re in for a self-deprecating journey through one of the best rock ‘n’ roll albums ever produced. The album chronicles front man Rivers Cuomo’s failed relationship and sexual frustrations, and man is it awesome. However, at its release, not everyone thought so. Cuomo hated the album, calling it a “hugely painful mistake” in 2001.  Since then, “Pinkerton” has gained cult status caused by its ability to tap into the bummer-center of your brain and somehow make it all OK, or at least a little better. Even Cuomo himself has come to enjoy the album, citing its braveness and authenticity.

“You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine,” Death From Above 1979. If things really took a turn for the worst, this is the album for you. Every song is a violent, angry assault of bass and drums centered around breaking down relationships. Just listen to the album’s title track and you’ll instantly understand exactly what I mean. The album is so gnarly, it even caused the eventual breakup of the band. No joke.
All of The Smiths. This may be considered cheating, but because this technically is about breakup albums, there really isn’t a specific album that fits because all of its music is quintessential breakup music. Whether it’s “Girl Afraid,” “Hatful of Hollow,” or even “The Queen is Dead”no one understands feeling down like Steven Morrissey.  Be warned though, use only in extreme circumstances. Prolonged exposure to The Smiths can have lasting effects such as increased heavy sighing, as well as a generally dreariness in character.

“Through Being Cool” / “Stay What You Are,” Saves the Day. Yes, this is cheating again, lumping two albums into one entry. But these albums are pretty much a continuation of one another. Singer Chris Conley’s dark, brilliant imagery in songs such as “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” and “All I’m Losing is Me” may turn people off, but stick around for songs such as “A Certain Tragedy” and “Nightingale.” It may be pure nostalgia, but Saves the Day always make me feel way better in a bittersweet sort of way.
“Fang Island,” Fang Island. Though there are almost no words on this Brooklyn, N.Y. quintet’s album, you have to physically try to be sad while listening to it. Between its infectious guitar riffs and off-the-charts energy, it’s an instant cure for whatever sort of gloomy weather ails you. Give “Daisy” and “Welcome Wagon” a listen and get super pumped up for whatever is next in your life. You can do it!

“I Get Wet,” Andrew W. K. The ultimate of breakup albums. Andrew W.K. has a simple philosophy: Party hard.  And while he has made a career of doing so, he hasn’t forgotten the important things in life, and with tracks such as “Girls Own Love” and “She is Beautiful,” Andrew W.K. keeps it real. But, that doesn’t stop the partying, as tracks such as “Party ‘Til You Puke” and “Fun Night” take it to the next level. If nothing else is working, turn on some “I Get Wet” and don’t ever stop living in the red.

— Kevin Smead is a senior religious studies and English major.