By Alice Browne, Niamh Ingram, Kate Wassell and Sophie Fennelly
Nick Cave: ‘Skeleton Tree’
Though during lockdown I’ve often found myself turning to more upbeat, cheesy albums to try and lift my mood this winter, there’s a big part of me that loves to be self-indulgent in my seasonal sadness. With four o’clock sunsets and the idea of cans in the park seeming like a distant memory, the appeal of Nick Cave’s nihilistic melancholy is even stronger.
Entrenched in the context of Cave’s son Arthur’s tragic death, there are points in which Skeleton Tree makes for an uncomfortable listen. Though the writing and recording had, in part, commenced before the accident, the album was completed in the immediate weeks that followed. This makes grief an ever-present force looming across the album, but its direct impact ambiguous. The tracks are often sparse and understated with an almost suffocating stillness. If you’re looking for something with melodic lead single, this may not be for you, but when viewed in its entirety it’s a powerfully raw insight into Cave’s most emotional endeavour yet.
By Alice Browne
Drake: 'Nothing Was The Same’
A classic that never gets old. ‘Nothing Was The Same’ features some of Drake’s biggest hits (think the notoriously quoted ‘Started From the Bottom’), yet also some top notch chill vibes. The likes of Wu Tang Forever and Paris Morton Music provide a perfect blend of substance to appreciate – yet you can appreciate it whilst whacking out the fourth essay of the day for your looming assignment deadline. That reason alone is why it’s been on repeat for me in the first week or so of lockdown 2.0; you can take yourself back to the easier years of 2013, and feel all content and nostalgic, when in reality you’re stuck in the middle of a global pandemic and drowning in uni work. Balance, people.
By Niamh Ingram
Adrianne Lenker’s ‘Songs’ and ‘Instrumentals’
The ethereal Adrianne Lenker - frontwoman of Big Thief as well as solo singer-songwriter - has released a new album modestly titled ‘Songs’. Lenker has released two instrumental tracks separately, capturing an atmospheric backdrop to the ‘Songs’. Lenker isn’t the first artist to record an album in a cabin in the woods, but she’s maybe the first to capture the atmosphere so explicitly. Leaves rustle, rain hits the windows, wind breathes through the cracks of the wood.
For me, the release has come at the perfect time: just as a second lockdown begins and the stress of essay season begins to kick in. The tracks are full to the brim with heartache and Lenker’s words are sometimes shadowy, but against her gorgeous finger-picking and unexpected melodies, the at-times gloomy lyricism is nothing short of cathartic. Music like this is essential listening for the darker months, not to mention days spent in isolation or lockdown. The second instrumental track ‘music for indigo’ is the kind of instrumental track that could be put on loop for hours, whether you want some relaxing music while you work or calming down before you fall asleep.
By Kate Wassell
Taylor Swift: ‘Folklore’
For many Taylor Swift fans, the announcement on the 23rd July that her surprise album ‘Folklore’ would be released the next day saved a summer that would have otherwise been tainted by ideas of what could’ve been. Yet, despite its cottagecore aesthetic and the title of its eighth track, something about the album never fit with summer. For me, the very foundations of this album were deeply entrenched in autumn. The extra time of lockdown has given me, finally, the opportunity to listen to it from start to finish, appreciating not only every song but the construction of the album as a whole. This time, unlike the on my first listen when my favourites were the more upbeat songs –‘august’, ‘illicit affairs’, and ‘the last great American dynasty’ to name a few – my perception of ‘autumnal music’ meant that I’ve been able to appreciate the quieter, slower songs such as ‘peace’ and ‘hoax’. The album’s raw and emotional lyrics are a crux to lean on in the difficult period of isolation that lies ahead for many of us during this winter.
By Sophie Fennelley