Whenever I am writing, walking, training or cooking – I usually listen to music. At home I tend to do this by spinning my favourite records on my Crosley…
It would be hard for me to describe my musical taste, as it shifts all the time. If I would have to describe it in three words, it would be: melancholic, vintage and experimental. The vintage part may come from the fact that I grew up listening to my dad’s music all the time. At the time being, this annoyed me incredibly because I got fed up with hearing the same playlist over and over again. Now, 10 years later, I feel very lucky. My father introduced me to David Bowie, Prince, Elton John, Bob Dylan and all of the best artists you could possibly imagine.
I am not sure whether it had a major influence on me in my musical preference as I mostly listen to contemporary music nowadays. Nevertheless, here’s the list of my all time favourite records:
LYKKE LI – I NEVER LEARN
We’re used to breakup albums that assume you just want to crawl into a hole and die, but I Never Learn is for the times when heartbreak is so life-affirming that you want to share the feeling with the world – Pitchfork
Since Lykke Li brought out this record in 2014, I have been listening to it non-stop. Before I Never Learn, I honestly didn’t know much about Lykke Li except for her big hit I Follow Rivers (often featured in commercials and films). But after listening to her previous records, Youth Novels and Wounded Rhymes, it struck me that no music came closer to my liking than hers. Her songwriting is wonderful and the production is always a typical Scandinavian blend of melancholy.
Now, back to the record. My huge affection for I Never Learn may come from the fact that Li and I went through the same difficulty of heartbreak. At the time it was released, I was in so much pain and sadness because of my turbulent love life. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Then, on one day, I suddenly heard No Rest For The Wicked and this song brought me to the album, I Never Learn. I know how cheesy and cringey this sounds, but it felt as it was meant to be. Finally, I had something to cling and shed tears to – someone who felt the same way as I did.
The record is described as Li’s shortest and most ambitious album to date. It only features 9 songs, a total length of 33 minutes of sorrow. Li’s voice cracks and roars very often on this record, she admits she ”let her good one down / true love die” and tries to sleep alone again. According to Li, this is the final installment of a trilogy of becoming a grown woman and finding her voice.
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS – THE FAMILY JEWELS
The likes of Kate Nash and company have flitted through this piano siren/exuberant dance-diva territory, but never mind, because this gorgeous genre starts now – The Boston Phoenix
Back in 2010, I was watching Celebrity Bites on MTV and I was instantly drawn to Marina’s bubbly personality and contagious laugh. As she is half Welsh, her voice is naturally beautiful and her Greek last name Diamandis literally translates as diamonds. Apart from her incredible fashion style, you can easily recognize her by the experimental, indie pop music she produces. Marina describes herself as an indie artist with pop goals.
The diverse production of The Family Jewels garnered positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Furthermore, the lyrical themes range from ”seduction of commercialism” to modern social values, family and female sexuality. Especially the honesty, rawness of the record makes it a favourite of mine – the way she feels as an extremely ambitious outsider who finally gets signed to a record label.
Gems from the album include I Am Not A Robot, Obsessions and Numb. Also, Marina tends to criticize the pop industry by making big pop hits with brilliant lyrics. Once you give a spin to Hollywood and Oh No! , you will easily know what makes Marina incredibly talented.
A self-consciously serious, elaborate, capital R Romantic dramatic statement that pulls no punches, more Greek tragedy than break-up album – The Wire
Whereas I Never Learn makes you want to sob eternally, Vulnicura chronologically documents the stages of a relationship that is about to end.
I feel no need to introduce Björk, the Icelandic singer-songwriter who changed music’s standards for the last few decades. Stonemilker, the opening track, places itself 9 months before the break-up and may be her saddest song to this day. She desperately tries to realign with her lover, ”a juxtaposition in faith / find our mutual coordinates”, as wrenching strings accompany her forlorn voice.
As soon as the record hits Black Lake, its core has been reached: 2 months after the break-up. ”Did I love you too much? / devotion bent me broken”, she sings. But, after a short intermezzo by Arca (who co-produced the record), Björk no longer feels like a victim: ”You have nothing to give / your heart is hollow”.
And even though it may seem there is no hope at first, Björk slowly heals: ”I am a glowing, shiny rocket / returning home / as I enter the atmosphere / I burn off layer by layer”.
It’s a rare thing for an album to have such a strong sense of what it wants to be. Bon Iver is about flow, from one scene and arrangement and song and memory and word into the next– each distinct but connected– all leading to “Beth/Rest” – Pitchfork
Bon Iver is an American indie folk band and they have released two albums so far. Their debut, For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007 and Bon Iver in 2011.
Each song on the album represents a place, starting with Perth. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this record is that it was recorded alone in the woods by one guy, Justin Vernon. The record was inspired by heartbreak, but this time, from a man’s point of view. Most of the songs are introspective, broad and contain an experimental edge. It’s easy to forget about time and feel lost when listening to Bon Iver.
There’s nothing more to say, except for me to advise you to delve yourself into the fantasy that is Bon Iver.
Cohen potently captures the pull between safety and the unknown, love and freedom, spirituality and sensuality: a panoramic view of human experience, rendered through the work of one exceptional artist – Pitchfork
What can I say? Everything Leonard Cohen does is sublime. The lyrics are potent, the choruses click – in other words, a beautiful cohesive work of art. Possibly one of Cohen’s most emotionally intense albums, but after listening to the previous records listed, I am sure you will be alright.
What are some of your favourite records?