Empathy in Music

Our editors reveal the albums they have connected with personally. Look out for more album reviews in our upcoming issue!

Mylo Xyloto (2011)

Coldplay

I was tempted to listen to Mylo Xyloto after seeing the beautiful album cover; colourful watercolour designs with graffiti inserts looked rather unique and promising. When I researched the album before listening to it, I knew it was going to be different from what I had heard before, but what I didn’t know was how it would make me feel. This might sound ridiculous but Mylo Xyloto is like a friend to me when I need company in an unpleasant state. The vast majority of songs are relatable, therefore, listening to them makes you feel as though you’re not alone. If someone manages to write songs about the feeling I am experiencing that means that they had to feel the same at some point and they managed to make it into a work of art. Also, the album has a positive vibe while speaking about heart-breaking experiences. For all these reasons, this album helped make me feel understood.

Berta Kardelyte, Online Editor

 

 

Clear Moon (2012)

Mount Eerie

The fifth LP he released under the name Mount Eerie, might not be Phil Elverum’s best album or his most meaningful, but it’s certainly the one that means the most to me. The album layers roomy synth drones on top of muffled guitars and drums to create a sonic airscape that Elverum’s voice, at once both otherwordly and conversational, floats through as if carried on the wind, all under-girded by clear, repetitive basslines. Lyrically, it mixes evocative description of the natural and artificial landscape with laconic existential musings: in a couple of lines that serve both as representative of his songwriting style and as a potted manifesto for his entire project, Elverum sings on the opening track ‘Through The Trees Pt. 2’ that ‘I meant all my songs not as a picture of the woods, but just to remind myself that I briefly lived.’ But despite its author’s intent, it is the sense of place the album creates, present in the album’s title and cover, the track names (‘House Shape’, ‘Over Dark Water’), and most of all the music and lyrics themselves, which sticks so firmly in the listener’s mind. All of which is perhaps why, when I listen to the album today, I am reminded of nothing more than the landscape in which I first listened to it: the winding paths and unpainted roads through the fields around my rural secondary school where I, as a sixth-former timetabled with a seemingly endless supply of free periods, would wander circuitously through whenever I got bored of the sixth-form common room, headphones clasped firmly over my ears.

Neil Weaving, Politics and Creative Writing Editor

 

Greatest Hits…So Far! (2010)

P!nk

This album has always been one of my favourites; not only because I listened to it on repeat when I was a teenager, trying to find my place in the world, but because it was a sort of small summary of P!nk’s career: a compilation of her most moving and influential songs. The empathy emanating from each of them (well maybe not ‘Get The Party Started’!) made me feel inclined to help others and be more aware of those who might be experiencing hardship. Take ‘Dear Mr. President’, the simple yet striking image of ‘rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away’ or ‘building a bed out of a cardboard box’ or the ‘F***ing perfect’, which describes the struggles a lot of us, including myself, faced in their teenage years; the pain of being underestimated and not appreciated, when all you wanted was some acceptance. I can easily say that this album has made me feel more empathetic, less alone and truly empowered. After all, P!nk also teaches us to ‘raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways’ because in the long run, being right doesn’t really matter; what matters is how empathetic you were. All of us ‘loud and nitty gritty, dirty little freaks’ should take courage from her, because who doesn’t love dancing away to P!nk?!

Dalia Gala, Science Editor

 

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