What do you listen to when you’re sad? It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves this week, for the mag’s new countdown of the 50 Darkest Records Ever, and it’s exhumed some classic gloomy albums (along with the spectres of ex-girlfriends / bank managers / funeral homes / failed bands, but let’s save that for another time).
Joy Division, Radiohead and The Smiths feature, of course, and with good reason. But we’ve cast our net a lot wider, looking at everything from Suicide to Scott Walker, Sabbath and Slint. What was most striking about the results was their diversity, from the abrasive post punk of Public Image Limited to Kanye West’s Auto-Tune heavy ‘808s & Heartbreak’. In a list that features both Sunn O))) and Springsteen, it becomes clear that depression, melancholy, anxiety, remorse or nostalgia (or all five) can be expressed (and emphathised with) in an infinite number of ways.
Forget your token folkster hitch-hiking their way to Miseryville or the oft-derided goths, darkness can fall on any musician in the most delightful ways. Our countdown features orchestral majesty (Spiritualized), minimal R&B (The xx) and everything in between – songs and albums linked only by their sheer power.
We each pick our own distinct maudlin music in dark times. For me, Eels, Neil Young or this guy usually do the trick.
This week’s NME has a full countdown of our top 50 darkest albums, plus interviews with White Lies, Chapel Club, Glasvegas and, erm, Aggro Santos among many more. Subscribe to the magazine or grab the digital issue now.