There you are driving down the road and your inner adult angst is threatening to swallow you alive. The disappointments of your twenties, the constant struggle, and overwhelming frustration of never quite getting ahead or ever knowing what exactly what you want for life, or if it’s even feasible is eating you alive. Since a million dollars and dream job are unlikely to await you at the end of the road, about the only thing that came make it better is an appropriately moody and atmospheric album for you to wallow in your ennui. Here are just a few that have done the job for me in the past.
While ’21’ broke your heart with “Someone Like You,” it’s the reflective pleas of “When We Were Young’ and ‘Million Years Ago’ that hit you right in the nostalgic gut as you reminisce on those simpler days of college before your student loans were due.
Sometimes I just feel it’s only me
Who never became who they thought they’d be
I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
Mumford and Sons “Babel”
While Mumford and Sons’ plaintive wail and howling banjo’s have filled the hole in modern British melancholia, their songs of tainted love and life gone awry paint the soundtrack of your regrets and your desperate hope for a light at end of the tunnel. “Hopeless Wanderer” and “Ghosts That We Know” will take your past mistakes and make them feel like child’s play in comparison.
I wrestled long with my youth
We tried so hard to live in the truth
But do not tell me all is fine
When I lose my head, I lose my spine
John Mayer “Continuum”
Before Mayer turned his penis into a walking rockstar cliche, he was singing the blues and writing songs about repair, rebirth, and giving yourself the space to be a little broken. “Stop This Train,” “In Repair,” and “Gravity” are the story of your twenties unraveling at a speed you can’t quite catch up to and not being sure you’re ever quite ready for what’s being thrown at you.
So much to do to set my heart right
Oh it’s taking so long I could be wrong, I could be ready
Oh but if I take my heart’s advice
I should assume it’s still unsteady
I am in repair, I am in repair
Radiohead “OK Computer”
Radiohead is what all other millennial ennui aspires to achieve. It is your rage, your pain, and your that great big empty hole inside you all rolled into one, and no other album better achieves that than “OK Computer.” From “Exit Music for a Film” to “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android” they will fill your head with a buzz of numbness fit only for a movie montage.
I’ve given all I can
It’s not enough
I’ve given all I can
But we’re still on the payroll
Neutral Milk Hotel, “Aeroplane Over the Sea”
This one is deceptively upbeat, but requires a close listen to the lyrics that speak of all the dark areas of life no one is ever quite willing to bring into the light. “Aeroplane Over the Sea’ will fill you with nostalgia while “Holland, 1945” will make you realize your problems mean nothing in comparison, and will likely make you feel worse about yourself.
And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me, me
Avett Brothers, “I and Love and You”
Mumford & Sons by no means have dibs on angst ridden banjos and the Avett Brothers’ mournful bass cello and Southern story telling takes everything up a melancholic notch. From the band that brought us “Murder in the City” the brutally blunt letter written from one brother to another on the off chance of his death, it’s no wonder their truth speaking fills a hole inside us. “Head Full of Doubt,” Slight Figure of Speech,” and “Ill With Want” tackle mental illness, insecurity, and the day in day out realities of living.
There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out
Kate Nash “Made of Bricks”
Kate Nash is that best friend you couldn’t bear to bring with you on your road trip because she’d say all the things you need to hear, and none of the ones you want to deal with. As she sings about the cracks in relationship foundations, the absolute shit way people treat each other, and the unbearableness of a truly rotten day you slowly realize it’s really your life she’s sharing with the world in “Foundations,” “Mouthwash,” and “Nicest Thing.”
And this is my body
And no matter how you try and disable it
Yes I’ll still be here
And, this, is my mind
And although you try to infringe
You cannot confine
Cold War Kids “Robbers & Cowards”
While perhaps their song “First” is probably the best song the band ever penned, as an album their debut “Robbers & Cowards” stands out by leaps and bounds. Each song is a story straight out of your life intermixed with downbeats and minor chords to give it an all to real sound in “Hang Me Up to Dry,” and “We Used to Vacation.”
And in case your road trip is as interminable as your mood, here are some worthy runner ups:
Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago”
Death Cab for Cutie, “Plans”
Elliot Smith, “From a Basement on the Hill”
Lorde, “Pure Heroine”
The Head and the Heart (self-titled)
Florence and the Machine, “Lungs”
Lana del Ray “Born to Die”
The National, “High Violet”
Arcade Fire, “Funeral”
So what did I miss? Tweet me @litdarling with your additions.