A day after it was released, on August 7th, I listened to Glass Animal's 'Tangerine'. And I loved it. Over the next 80 days, I listened to it more than a hundred times, driving it firmly to the top of my Spotify Wrapped. The whole album, Dreamland, juggles a diversity of sounds with strong tonal consistency. It’s my favourite album, up there for me with Bambi and Now, Not me.
For me, this was a goodbye song. This year has been a year of transition, a time when nothing was ordinary, when everything I was sure of was taken away. My secondary school experience ended with a whimper, and my university experience started with a stutter. Through it all, media, introspection, and digital communication have become king in a world of physical separation. This song has vibed with me through mental breakdowns, hours of car and plane rides, terrible homework and procrastinated projects.
Vibe is the definitive factor in 'Tangerine'. It has a beautiful vaporwave aesthetic and it’s bursting with energy. The song entices you, gives you no choice but to bob along. It has the best music video ever. It talks about growth from childhood, losing yourself, and changing beyond recognition. As the kids say, it’s a mood. This song is just an incredible listening experience. And in a year like 2020, I will take any little miracles I can get.
“I am valued/I am loved/I will get revenge/on everyone that’s done me wrong”; if the antidote to 2020 was a song, it would be this defiant gem from London-based indie punks Fresh.
I listen to most music on my iPod (cos apparently it’s still 2011, and also because musicians should be fairly paid), so the tracks that make it onto my Spotify Wrapped tend to be those reserved for bedroom-dancing/full volume blasting. That’s definitely the case for this bouncing, endlessly repeatable anthem. A two-minute musical pep talk, ‘Revenge’ builds through crashing drums and emo-tinged riffs to fuel defiant rage and ultimately create a powerful sense of self-recognition and love.
I started listening to Fresh after their joyful set supporting Pup last year, and their album Withdraw (which ‘Revenge’ closes) has become a lockdown staple. Flying through bittersweet, Martha-esque DIY pop thrashing, the songs are immediately catchy while dealing with mental illness, loneliness, and trying to find a sense of home with aching honesty and immediacy.
‘Revenge’ repeats its rebellious self-love like a mantra, shining with Fresh’s punk energy until you are yelling along that you are valued and loved, and crucially, believing it.
2020 was a strange and incredibly testing year, and I'd wager I'm not alone when I say music got me through it. I listened to 150,993 minutes / 104 days of music according to Spotify Wrapped. An unholy amount to be sure, but there's really not much to do in 4 months of near-isolation apart from listening to music.
The one song I revisited the most, however, was John Maus' cover of Molly Nillson's 'Hey Moon', a beautiful piece of dreamy, synthy goodness from Maus' album We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. It felt like a personal ode to the moon during all those nights spent awake until 4 am and completely alone during the initial lockdown. I was practically a nocturnal being, and the thought of singing to the moon was incredibly comforting.
I listened (and sang along, undoubtedly) to the song 279 times, and even now those first few notes give me chills, and remind me I've made it through worse than whatever I'm dealing with at the moment. The song feels like stepping into a warm pool and lifts my heart up immediately.
"Hey Moon, it's just you and me tonight, everyone else is asleep." That stuff just hit right. John Maus is a genius.