It’s a phrase you’ll never have imagined you’d ever read, but if you are affected by any of the issues raised in the following Wombats video, please call Supportline on 01708 765200.
Because the massive modern day ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ that is their new single ‘Anti D’ details singer Murph’s addiction to anti-depressants, and suggests that we should “cast away with the doctor’s plans” and take music as a much cheaper and simpler form of the drug.
Now, many of us look to music as a means of emotional catharsis and escape from depressive spells – I, for one, being a lifelong Wedding Present fan, have often been plagued with depression as my sole bedfellow, and sought solace in Dave Gedge’s consoling bellows whenever it struck. But does music really help?
A report from the McGill University in Montreal found that music which gives you goosebumps increases the levels of dopamine – the brain’s way of making you feel like you’re kissing God’s balls for a couple of seconds – by 21%, the equivalent of taking cocaine or enjoying a really brilliant Curly-Wurly.
“A single tone won’t be pleasurable in isolation,” said report leader Valerie Salimpoor. “However, a series of single tones arranged in time can become some of the most pleasurable experiences that humans have ever reported… If music-induced emotional states can lead to dopamine release, as our findings indicate, it may begin to explain why musical experiences are so valued.”
The McGill report, however, only focused on instrumental pieces of music but, for me, it’s always lyrics that relate to my own personal trauma that I rush to for consolation.
My last big break-up had me immersing myself in Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Cornerstone’, ‘Aeroplanes’ by Local Natives and Regina Spektor’s ‘Summer In The City’ on repeat, plus those old heartbreak classics ‘Busby Berkeley Dreams’ by The Magnetic Fields, ‘It’d Be Nice (To Have You Around)’ by The Sights and, well, anything off The Weddoes’ ‘Seamonsters’.
I can even admit to sidling back up to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay, like a hug from an un-Facebooked friend. But as much as these songs spoke to my soul as it lay in a throbbing in a pulverized mush in the gutter, pock-marked with high-heeled stomp-prints, they never made me feel better. The ‘catharsis’ was probably helping the ‘healing process’ (and other such Trisha-isms), but in essence I was just wallowing.
No, it was all in the message. The only downbeat song that gave me any desire to grit my teeth and get on with life was the modern day ‘Everybody Hurts’ that is ‘Fuel Up’ by Stornoway: “When your days are darker/Put your foot down harder/Drive on”.
Otherwise, it was only the livelier songs that helped me shake off my woes for a few minutes. Stomping along rainy London streets to Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Ghost’ was sheer endorphin rush in song; bawling away my troubles to ‘Soldier Girl’ by The Polyphonic Spree was blessed psych-relief. Euphoria in music, I’ve found, is catching; it really is best to dance away the heartache.
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So which tunes bring out your inner Louis Spence on a day you feel more Charlie Brooker?
For me, there has been one record, of late, that’s been so ecstatically uplifting and bursting with classic modern pop tunes that it’s elevated me out of any slump, funk or sluggishness I might have been feeling at the time. Believe it or not, it’s the new Wombats album. Maybe Murph is the new Prozac after all…