I’m sure you’ve read a bunch of lists for the best and worst albums of 2015, but today I thought I’d go ahead and jump aboard that subjective ME ME ME train and tell you which 2015 albums I found best for WALLOWING IN THE SWAMPS OF SADNESS this year, which just so happened to be one of the worst I have ever had. Like, not to be all pity party over here, but LEGITIMATELY it was an avalanche of negative vibes // for instance, I got mononucleosis for the third time in my life this summer and essentially had to Rear Window it from June until late September, and then my dad and my dog decided to die within five days of each other in mid-October, because the universe thought, “SURE WHY NOT LOL!” (#HEAVY // #SORRY) So while I did do my fair share of basking in the glory of Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber’s new records (no fooling, I really did), I also understandably put some downers on heavy rotation, which are as follows:
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell
From the moment I heard “Should Have Known Better” I knew that I was going to love this album with intensity. And I was right; it is easily one of Sufjan’s best, and while I know it wasn’t written specifically for me, it felt like pretty perfect timing for something so resonant to hit my headphones. There really isn’t one single track that I don’t love off this record, ALTHOUGH, if my computer was on fire and I could only save a few songs, they would be: “Carrie and Lowell”, “John My Beloved” and “Fourth of July”.
I went to Iceland this past November for a much-needed mental break, and my trip coincided with one of Bjork’s many cancelled shows due to her inability to perform Vulnicura, a record that is largely about her split from Matthew Barney. While I (fortunately?) was not in a position to have a breakup this year, songs like “Black Lake” and “Stonemilker” hit me hard in the feels and remained at the top of my playlist for much of 2015.
Beach House, Thank Your Lucky Stars
To be perfectly honest, any and all Beach House records have the tendency to work their way into my emotional listening ventures, but Thank Your Lucky Stars was released the day after my dad died, and for me, the musical vibe just felt like this weirdly perfect combination of optimism and melancholy that was a nearly exact translation of my head space; I was incredibly sad, but I really didn’t want that to turn into bitterness, you know? (In particular, “Majorette” really struck a chord, and I think I’ve played it about six million times since mid-October.) I also saw Beach House play Iceland Airwaves, and that was transcendental in its own right, but the best was listening to Thank Your Lucky Stars (and Beach House and Bloom) on my solo drive down to Vik // excellent soundtrack for looking at waterfalls and horses and black sand beaches.
After accidentally stumbling upon bittersweet “Golden” on SoundCloud and trying to find out more about its creator, Szymon Borzestowski, I learned that he’d actually committed suicide three years earlier, and that the album, Tigersapp, was only just being released. So when all was said and done, this 2015 record actually ended up being three-dimensionally sad, but I’m glad it surfaced nonetheless, because it matched my emotional landscape pretty perfectly.
Colleen Green, I Want To Grow Up
This one was definitely on repeat during my aforementioned Rear Window summer with ye olde mononucleosis // being unable to do pretty much anything except sleep and answer emails and watch Netflix and have daily existential crises, it kind of ended up as my very literal anthem. So while I wouldn’t classify it as a specifically “sad-sounding” record, it pretty well sums up a very depressing time in my life which (unbeknownst to me) was about to get even more depressing!
Okay yeah, I realize this isn’t an album, but 1. to be fair, it’s slated to be on their upcoming record Don’t You, and 2. I must have listened to this track a thousand times since its release as a single // again, it’s that kind of sad-yet-optimistic vibe that really gets to me, and it was for sure a good fit for my overall mood in 2015.
Dustin O’Halloran, “Transparent Theme (Solo Piano Version)”
Again, not an album, but Dustin O’Halloran continues to be a goddamned genius via the Transparent soundtrack (also pretty much the best show, PS…), and this version of the theme song is like…I can’t even. For me, it basically feels like the musical embodiment of letting go, like…sort of waving goodbye out a window? I don’t know, maybe that’s a little abstract, but it’s a great track that absolutely tugs at the heart strings.
And for the honorable mentions who preceded the 2015 we’ve got: Marika Hackman, John Maus, Rachmaninoff, and the Kon-Tiki soundtrack. In general, a big shout-out to music for weirdly being a good listener for a listener.