I'm not gonna sugarcoat it - 2014 has mostly been crap. Many good things happened, sure, but the missing planes, sinking ferry, massacred children, floods, and my never-ending existentialism outweigh whatever was right in the world.
So here's a list of five depressing albums (and a couple of angau anthems) I loved this year. None of them seem to have made it to any one else's "Greatest Albums of 2014" list, but I hope they make you cry, question the choices you have made in life and somehow still get you through the tough times.
1. I Am An Island by Fatherson
While not inherently depressing, this Scottish delight has its own share of theatrical buildups and heartstring tugging. Sometimes it makes you think of things that could have been and other times, it lulls you to sleep.
To me, however, it's a catchy reminder of how I'm going to die alone. Which makes sense, if you think about it. After all, the title of the album issss I Am An Island. I discovered the album by chance a couple of days after doing something incredibly stupid and then frantically scrambling around trying to fix things. (So much for second chances, folks.) I ended up listening to the record on loop and a month and now it means too much to me.
My favourite songs on it are: I Like Not Knowing, Cat Stevens, and I Am (Hidden Track).
2. All The Luck In The World by All The Luck In The World
I first heard the song Never by All The Luck In The World in my friend Julian's car while we were on the way back from Malacca. This was back in 2013, I think. The car broke down or had a flat or something like that, and we had to wait on the side of the highway to wait for a tow truck. I was just really anxious to get back to civilisation (i.e. places with data reception) so that I could look the song up.
The full LP was finally released in 2014 and, much like their fellow Irishman Damien Rice (more on his sappiness later), All The Luck In World sing sentimental songs over elegantly simple chords. There must be something in the water there that gives lost lovers the powers to write beautifully honest folk tunes. Maybe it's time to pay a visit.
My favourite songs on it are: Fight, in the Oaks, Dark Eyes, and of course, Never.
3. Keep You by Pianos Become The Teeth
Pianos started off as your average screamo post-hardcore band back in the mid 2000s but somehow, their music has evolved into this deep smorgasbord of bleak emotions. It's as if sadness, desperation, anxiety and some other malignant indescribable feeling were blended into one.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more it feels like Pianos is just a more depressed version of The Dangerous Summer.
My favourite songs on it are: Say Nothing, Repine and Old Jaw.
4. Still Life by Dawn Golden
Like witchcraft, Dexter Tortoriello can string lonely nights into solemn tunes.
That is all that needs to be said.
When I first heard All I Want, I thought it sounded like the chanting music they play at temples. Funnily enough, the video for the song Snow In Newark (his recent collaboration with Ryan Hemsworth) shows Hemsworth on a spiritual retreat.
Snow In Newark is probably my favourite song of 2014. I played it on loop the entire time I was on holiday, I play it in my car, I play it for people when they sit in my car, and I often catch myself singing it out loud (and out of tune, obviously). The only reason Ryan Hemsworth's album Alone For The First Time didn't make it to this list is because it isn't depressing enough.
My favourite songs on it are: All I Want, Last Train and Swing.
5. My Favourite Faded Fantasy by Damien Rice
Anyone who has listened to Damien Rice knows that he is the king of "slit-wrist music". (That phrase was originally coined by my friend Simon Lee when describing Trance music, but I suppose it's applicable here.) My Favourite Faded Fantasy is just as depressing as O, and like all other Damien Rice albums, almost every track is glazed with the regret of unrequited love. What makes it even more depressing is perhaps the fact that, after his 8-year hiatus, Mr Rice has aged considerably - making it look as if he really will die alone.
My favourite songs on it are: My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Long Long Way and The Greatest Bastard.
Notable Angau Anthems of 2014:
Nothing At All by Taking Back Sunday
I was lucky enough to listen to the album before it was released (media privileges, yeah!) and started sobbing when I heard Nothing At All. I'm an emotional sap - that you must know. I was on the bus on the way to Singapore to catch TBS live and heard Nothing At All while staring into the darkness. Shortly after, I witnessed a forrest fire for the first time in my life.
Hard As Hello by Kimberly Anne
Don't be fooled by the chirpy beats in Hard As Hello, It's a sad song disguised as a happy one! Okay, I exaggerate. But it reminds me of all the times another girl has been picked over me and it makes me feel good to know that I'm not the only one in the world who sometimes feels that way.
Drown by Bring Me The Horizon
It doesn't really bother me that BMTH are becoming increasingly mainstream - they deserve to make more money, I feel. But this song speaks to me. A friend of mine told me that you shouldn't try shrooms if you can't deal with your inner demons and like this song, I know I can't actually save me from myself. And that is why, kids, I don't do drugs.
Happy 2015, folks!