Not sure if I should post this, but, given my current circumstances, I thought it might be 'fun' to list them off. It's not really fun. Break-up albums are a very personal experience and the ones I have included are the ones that have impacted me most in my life. So, you get to see inside. Let me know in the comments section below what some of your favorite ones are. I have not even begun to scratch the surface here. The ones I like usually involve all the stages of grief. Denial, Bargaining, Sadness, Anger and Acceptance. Although, usually, Acceptance is left out and longing and despair left in its place. They are very cathartic and help one to move to the other side. Usually, for me, I will have listened to an album for a spell and then go through a break up and be like "Whoa, that's a break-up album?" I also like how 'love songs' I have acquired off some of these albums are beautiful love songs, but in the context of the album, turn into a creepy, longing. Hope you enjoy, these are in no particular order.
1. Genesis - Duke
Phil Collins is the master of sadness. No, really. He wrote this album around the same time as "Face Value" which he attributes to the divorce of his first wife. He said, "I had a wife, two children, two dogs, and the next day I didn't have anything. So a lot of these songs were written because I was going through these emotional changes." In true Genesis style, the album is musically and lyrically thematic and begins and ends with the same themes, with many of the same chord structures and melodies used throughout the album. It is an amazing piece of work and if you ever listen to classical music, you will understand why. This has been in the roster since I was sixteen and has never left. I recently purchased it on vinyl and am still amazed at the perfection of it. This video is amazing.
2. of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer
Kevin Barnes' self-immolating banter on this album is some of the most poetic musings that have ever graced my ears. It covers all the ranges mentioned above, anger, longing, sadness, denial. It's just beautiful really. It was written when he and his wife went through a temporary separation (which, I didn't know he even had a wife till now). He wrote it from an altar-ego, one that is less compassionate, more of a jerk. He really wanted to show off the ugly side of his ego. The result: a beautifully coalescent piece of art. It also marks the band's move to a more dance-funk sound. In my opinion, this is the best album the band ever put out. Much like the above, I think it has more to do with the personal nature of it. Maybe the artist has more invested in the album. Either way, it is flawless. Make sure to check out the follow-up EP "Icons, Abstract Thee".
3. Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
Unlike the follow-up album "In Our Bedroom After The War" which is an album largely of reconciliation, "Set Yourself On Fire" is a cathartic romp through the worst parts of a break-up. Maybe including parts of getting over it, finally. The first thing you hear off the album is, "When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire", read by Torquil's dad. It opens the song, "Your ex-lover is dead", which is one of the most beautifully brutal break-up songs ever. I've never heard a song cover both ends of the spectrum and perhaps it why I love it so. Amy & Torquil answer each other perfectly in this..."There's one thing I want to say, so I'll be brave. You were what I wanted, I gave what I gave. I'm not sorry I met you, I'm not sorry it's over, I'm not sorry there's nothing to save." Whoosh. That's rough. "Live through this and you won't look back."
4. Loney Dear - Loney Noir
Loney, Dear is the pseudonym of Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen. This is actually his fourth release, but his first on a major label outside of Sweden. While this album is imminently hopeful for new lovers, listening in the context of a broken relationship will crush you. I don't think he intended this as a break-up album, but the lyrics are so soul-crushingly right on...full of longing and love lost. I have a difficult time seeing it any other way. It's unfortunate, but, luckily there's a good love song or two in here that will make you smile. There is an underlying hope in it as well, but you have to want it.
5. The National - High Violet
This, The National's last album, as hard as it is to say, is my favorite. Watching him perform these songs live was enough to cause you to need therapy afterward. I don't even think the songs from the studio carry the same weight as that concert. I have often wondered how Matt Beringer can write an album of this intimacy and still stay married. It's pretty damn intense and speaks of the relationship in ways that his wife has to know there's something going on. They must have an incredible relationship and understanding. I hope to have that someday. There is such longing in this album. Hope for reconciliation that never shows itself. It's a painful album to listen to, and as amazing as it is, I still have difficulties listening to it today. "I was afraid I'd eat your brains, cause I'm evil."
6. Bears - Bears
This is an incredible good-bye album. No reconciliation. Only getting by and getting on, with a touch of longing. Beautiful, sweet lyrics and music. Simple and to the point. Again, like all the others in this collection, I think this is the best album they put out. Certainly it has to do with the emotional content of the album. Maybe the artist just became more honest, or whatever and out poured this enormous creativity and resonance. Whatever the case, I am grateful when it brings me albums like this.
7. Blind Pilot - 3 Rounds And A Sound
The title track to this album is heart-wrenching enough. While the rest of these albums can be taken as a whole, maybe telling a kind of story, in a way, I think this one is a collection of songs. It is still gut-busting from the first song to the last. These guys are from Portland, Oregon and this is their first album, and their best. Israel Nebeker is the frontman. It ends with a song of longing and hope. Darkness, free-fall. All are included here.
8. Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
When Laura wrote this she was 17 or 18 years old. I still don't understand how someone that young can write lyrics that pierce through your heart like daggers, twisting this way and that. How can someone that young understand the immense pain that one experiences when separating from another? And yet, she does. Who am I to judge her age? My favorite tear-jerker dealing with the darkness..."Shine". It's haunting and poignant and right on. Ugh. "I need shine, step away from my light, I need shine."
9. M. Ward - Post-War
I discovered M. Ward after going through a particularly painful breakup. This whole album as well as "Fuel For Fire" from 'Transistor Radio', generally make many rounds through my roster. I remember still, hearing Chinese Translation for the first time. It was like the skies opened up and someone understood what I was experiencing. I listen to M. Ward a lot now. He's probably one of my favorite artists, not only for his soulful lyrics, but the way they pierce right through the veil and shatter my misconceptions of love.
10. Mojave 3 - Excuses For Travelers
This one is difficult. Neil Halstead is my muse. Sadly. This album covers every spectrum of emotion. And does it well. It, however, ends with the kind of hope one has to hold onto. "I got my sunshine and I'll get by." Thanks Neil.
If that's movin' up, then I'm movin' out
3 years ago