Us kids know
It only takes one album. One album that opens your eyes and questions your body and your mind and your soul. One that you can’t comprehend its existence in the context of your life. One that makes you reconsider that. One that makes you adjust your gaze ever so slightly to embrace it and understand it and live with it fully in your mind.
These albums reside in corners of your mind that you don’t access very often. It’s a miracle that these songs find these spaces and brighten them. The small change in your geography isn’t actually so small; it can enliven and invigorate your entire perspective. These albums introduce you to newfound originality, wonder and desire.
You only come across a handful of these in your lifetime, but they hit you and they hit you hard and everything else from then on is different.
My first experience of this kind was thanks to Arcade Fire’s Funeral. Essentially, Funeral is indie rock’s thesis statement of the new millennium. Few albums in this vein have since come close to its golden splendor and immaculate document of the devastation of coming-of-age in the face of death. Arcade Fire abandoned all pretense of diminishing their burning grief while scaling the pretense of the album’s orchestral grandeur to make an untouchable story full of passion and emotional truths. Funeral is an album for us kids who know: we who know the wonder of our self-imposed mythology and the anguish that collides with the hope. If any moment were to sum up Funeral, it would be the chorus of “Wake Up,” the moment when “Woah-oh-ohhhh” became more than what could ever be written on a page.
The romanticism of Funeral, released in 2004, opened the flood gates for bands to put their heart on their sleeves and make records with the intent purpose of changing lives. An admirable goal, if somewhat impossible for most bands to accomplish.
But there have been many artists and albums since then who have done what Arcade Fire did for me. And Funeral wouldn’t have even been possible if hundreds of artists before them lay the template for what makes a truly perfect album.
Which I suppose I now arrive at my main point: music was the majority of my life for years. I listened to multiple albums every single day. I had lists upon lists upon lists and playlists and mixes and CDs of artists to listen to, and I did so with reckless abandon. But recently (probably a symptom of anxiety, or anhedonia) I stopped feeling the wealth of emotions I usually got from music. Sure, I still listened to music every day and thought about it constantly, but the pulsating beat in my heart and the vibrancy in my mind was dimmer, less palpable and less inspiring.
I believe it was because there hadn’t been an album for a while that really got to me. I was searching so hard for that sensation that everything else felt a little number. It was tiring, and I was almost ready to give up (as if my obsessive personality would ever let me abandon something so easily).
But 2017 has given me some albums to revive these feelings. First came Melodrama, which took the world by storm (and me). Lorde becomes something more on Melodrama, a modern-day Kate Bush in her prime, a supreme auteur of a maturity beyond her years and a compositional masterpiece in the buildup and release of twentysomething angst and euphoria. I never thought Lorde would make an album so great so young, but shame on me for doubting her. Melodrama is 2017’s best album.
And now there’s St. Vincent’s glorious MASSEDUCTION. Annie Clark’s fifth album, MASSEDUCTION is the synthesis of the art rock goddess’ greatest strengths, from her incredible guitar prowess to her lyrical wit. Every song on the album is massive, especially singles “New York,” “Los Ageless” and “Pills.” Clark has said that MASSEDUCTION is the most honest, heartfelt album she’s ever made, and that much is abundantly clear in its sweeping emotional gut punches. MASSEDUCTION exceeded all expectations.
I can’t say for sure how these albums will affect me in the long run, but that’s the best part. The joy is in the surprise. I feel at least somewhere on the way back to where I want to be, and I’ll treasure these albums closely for the rest of my life for saving me.
Luke Maguire, a junior, studies English. He is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of Le Provocateur.