I was relatively happy in high school. At that time, I was fond of Eve 6, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Brother Ali, and various funk and jazz groups. These bands all have their own themes and charms, but I’d say alienation and disillusion aren’t really present in them in any significant measure.
In contrast to high school, I spent a large part of college life in various states of disillusion and alienation. Further, I fought and lost my first significant bouts with depression - and anxiety, I later learned - throughout college. Losing your faith and struggling to replace it with something personally meaningful tends not to help, either.
Depression and anxiety affect everyone differently. I wrote a lot, turned inward, avoided friends, and turned to music with increasingly morbid themes: The Antlers’ Hospice, The Dear Hunter’s Act II (still a favorite), Radiohead’s The Bends (among the rest, of course), Cursive’s Domestica, and a group called Midtown.
Today’s album is Midtown’s Forget What You Know. First, a caveat: the instrumentals are great. Incredible, really. They would be a cause célèbre on any other record, but they aren’t the main attraction here. The reason you listen to something like this is to feel what kind of view a man and his band have of the abyss from their perch on the bandstand.
“My body’s numb, everything I touch, turns to stone // The more I learn, the less I know, the more I’m lost” sings lead man Gabe Saporta on “Help Me Sleep”. (You might recognize that name. Yes, it’s the same Gabe Saporta from the saccharine Cobra Starship, which he later founded. How the fuck that happened I don’t know.) That’s the theme here: numbness. Dullness. Desensitization. These are not love songs.
I probably know the words to this entire record. I spent hours, days, weeks living rather unhappily inside my headphones with this one. Funny enough, I’ve never really shared this album with anyone. It’s like bringing someone to the spot where you hit and killed a deer with your car. It might be emotionally significant for you, but who shares something like that?
Accordingly, I used to not like to talking about these sort of feelings with other people. Some people have never felt that nothingness, that vacancy, that meaninglessness, and they look at you like you’re damaged goods. Now I know that many people have been there and felt that emptiness. We’re alone together.
Listen to the whole album here, from the start. **\ **
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