You know the ones I’m talking about. When you put them on they immediately seem to be about YOU at THIS MOMENT. Sometimes they are even retroactive. I have listened to a few of them that basically voiced exactly how I felt about my nervous breakdown in high school \or a bad break up but years later. They make you feel exactly how you did at that moment, but it is comforting not painful. I’ll think things like “wow, I really wish that I had this album then”. But, if I did, it probably wouldn’t have meant the same thing. Sometimes we need that distance from those moments to actually understand how we felt and what was going on. \
I’ll start with Emergency & I by Dismemberment Plan. This album is what gave me the idea for this post. It was one I entirely missed out on, I was not into the band (or really into music in quite the same way) when it came out and I was probably too young for it to really be “about” my life the way many critics and fans have claimed it felt to them. The pitchfork review actually was a pretty lovely and autobiographical piece about how that album grew up with those who got it just entering their early or mid 20’s; how it came to define a certain sort of individual. Although I am now on a path towards what I hope is gainful employment and a set future for myself, there are still times when I feel somewhat adrift and confused. Basically, it is quarter-life crisis time and this album is pretty much the ultimate quarter-life crisis album. The lyrics just cut right into how I feel about the world: anxious, jittery, lost, uh…loving a magician? For example, just take a look at the lyrics The Jitters, You are Invited or Gyroscope. Though this album was made quite a long time ago, and I had listened to the other three Dismemberment Plan albums, I did not actually hear this album until the reissue came out. You know something is brilliant when you feel like it was something that was always part of your life on first listen.
Next, we have The Meadowlands by The Wrens. I had this album for quite a long time but for some reason never actually listened to it. I had heard various critical notices forever and always wanted to but it just never happened. One day, nearly a year after my break up I decided to listen to Secaucus by the same band. I absolutely loved it. So the next day I put on The Meadowlands and proceeded to have an emotional reaction akin to being punched in the chest. Then I immediately listened to it all the way through again. This album features a lot of songs about dead relationships, anger and sadness. By this point the anger, sadness and guilt about the way things had gone down and ended in my relationship had mostly dissipated but while listening I had begun to feel as if it had happened just the day before. Surprisingly, this feeling was good. The songs gave voice to a lot of the things I had difficulty explaining to myself about how I had felt and forced me to deal with a lot of things that I had kind of swept under the mental carpet in the process of “moving on.” By allowing myself to feel as angry as I did and accept that, even if it wasn’t entirely justified, and as sad as I felt, even if it didn’t entirely make sense, and as guilty as I was, even if it was more than I needed to, it finally allowed me to actually process all of that and move on. About a month later I moved to Philadelphia and started a new phase of my life. I was still lonely, but I wasn’t bitter anymore, which I must admit I had been. I had put on a face of being OK and acting relatively normal again but it was there. I was nervous of being in a new city and being out of home for the first time but I was excited as shit. Then because I was somewhat lonely and nervous on my first night in the apartment I decided to call up one my best friends who had also recently moved to the city and she invited me out to dinner where I met a really pretty girl who mocked me for liking Brand New and who I immediately had a crush on. Quite a few awkward conversations and “study sessions” later I finally got off my ass and kissed her. So thank you Kevin, Greg, Charles and Jerome for forcing me to relive an incredibly painful thing, it was the best possible medicine.