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Listen to our 50 darkest albums as a Spotify playlist
40The Doctor Came At Dawn (1996)
Bill Callahan recounts every painful detail of falling in and out of love on this uncomfortable ride into the centre of heartbreak. Brutal, weepy and deadpan.
James Allan trademarks his brand of Scottish EastEnders: a boy is dead in a sectarian attack, a dad isn’t there, some contemplate fate inside the belly of Polmont young offenders’ prison, others turn on their SAD lights to ward off crushing depression.
38In An Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)
Workshy eterno-mope Jeff Magnum’s splintered collection of folk songs came into focus after he read Anne Frank’s The Diary Of A Young Girl. The emptiness of suffering that he realised in making it seems to have creatively neutered him – he hasn’t released anything of substance since.
37Black Sabbath (1970)
In particular, the opening track, prosaically titled ‘Black Sabbath’. The album as a whole can credibly claim to have invented heavy metal.
36Things We Lost In The Fire (2001)
Notoriously slow-rocking Minnesotans featuring a Mormon couple. We could have picked pretty much any Low album, but went for one featuring the lyric “I fell down the stairs/I wished I was dead.”
35OK Computer (1997)
Better. Sexier. A peerless work of genius. Harmonically excellent. Prone to causing night sweats. Or invoking drink-dropsied delirium tremens. Like Thom Yorke. Drowning in pre-millennial angst. On MTV Rocks.
By the time this was made the collective global comedown had begun. And so it was that he envisioned ‘Berlin’ as “a ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ for the ’70s”. The story about producer Bob Ezrin telling his kids their mum died in order to record authentic crying from them is fake; it’s a testament to the sense of singular artistic purpose that bleeds through the project that so many still believe it.
33The Blackened Air (2002)
NYC’s wonderful gothic folkist Nina Nastasia should be a superstar by about 2060 if her popularity increases at its current rate. If not, her Steve Albini-recorded second album will remain an undervalued wonder.
32Candy Apple Grey (1986)
Dropping the hardcore in favour of a more sparse, lo-fi approach exposed the sadness at the core of Bob Mould and Grant Hart’s fractured relationship. A touchstone of lonely desperation.
31Third/Sister Lovers (1978)
Recorded by a broken band, both emotionally and personally, this was deemed too uncommercial for release for four years due to Alex Chilton’s tortured unravelling on the likes of ‘Holocaust’ (dead mums and life-as-nuclear-conflagration) and bonus track ‘Dream Lover’ (desperate blues fantasy).