Friday, April 18, 2008

Great Break-Up Records

I had my iPod on shuffle in hopes of some inspiration for a blog post. Nothing like this happened, but I was reminded of some albums I haven't listened to in a while. What I mean to say is that I haven't had to listen to these particular albums. The albums of which I speak are what I categorize as break-up records. These are collections of songs inspired almost entirely by bad break-ups. I mean, the only thing more prominent in pop music than love songs are songs about lost love.

Luckily, I haven't had the need to listen to these songs in a long time. I'm happy in my relationship and it looks like we'll be together for a long time. However, the pain and suffering that happened at the end of previous relationships will live for a long time in certain songs.

The first song shuffled that took me back to a break-up was Cursive's "The Martyr" from their brilliant 2000 release, Domestica. According to indie lore, Cursive's front man and primary songwriter, Tim Kasher, suffered through a terrible divorce after leaving Omaha for the then greener musical pastures of Portland, OR. Domestica captures the break-up in all its agony and jealousy like few albums can. Kasher leaps from depression to resentment to clarity. It's really passionate take on his experiences.

Another album that represents relationships not meant to last is the classic (yeah, I said it) 1993 release from Cincinnati's The Afghan Whigs, Gentlemen. This time, instead of a record based on actual events, Greg Dulli and co. present a fiction that would have been equally poignant on the big-screen. The screams of betrayal, drug/sex addiction, and abuse haunt this anomaly of the grunge era. Ironically, one of the highlights of the record comes when the wronged woman, as played by Marcy Mays of Columbus' Scrawl, finally speaks on "My Curse". This has easily been among my top 5 records ever every time I make a list.

The third break-up record I rediscovered this week was Sebadoh's Harmacy. Sure, this is not considered Sebadoh's best, but I believe it's underrated. Regardless, it makes a great break-up record. The funny thing is that it's the only one on this list that actually came out while I was going through a break-up. Like the album, my break-up went through many stages of emotions. There were moments of disconnection, anger, deceit, reconciliation, and disgust. Sebadoh's ability to bounce back and forth between these emotions is primarily due to the strengths of both Barlow and Lowenstein as songwriters.

I'm sure these are not the only great break-up records out there, but these were the albums that have meant something to me...and were uncovered through my iPod's shuffle. I'd be interested to hear some other break-up records. I know I've overlooked a few.


gemmanuel said...

Thanks for the link...

All time break-up record (IMHO): Shoot Out The Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson. It’s widely rumored that the folkie couple recorded it while they were actually breaking up. Turns out that's not true, although they did split soon after it was released. Still the songs ("Don't Renege on Our Love," "Walking on a Wire," "Man in Need," "Shoot Out the Lights") certainly evoke love lost (or almost lost). Good stuff.

gemmanuel said...

Also, thanks for reminding me about Gentlemen, an album I haven't listened to in years. Definitely going to dig it out.

comoprozac said...

I have never heard Shoot Out the Lights but have heard the lore. Maybe I'll look for it while shopping at St.Louis' Vintage Vinyl.

I'm glad someone else out there loves Gentlemen besides me and this guy.

I almost forgot one of my favorite break-up albums is Beck's Sea Change.

Zach said...

Blood on the Tracks.