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On Repeat: Indie gems for a melancholic spring

Four distinct songs for when you’re feeling outside of the world

Listeners who have experienced the swirl of love, hatred, envy and futility of an asymmetric relationship may find some solace in “Naomi.”
Listeners who have experienced the swirl of love, hatred, envy and futility of an asymmetric relationship may find some solace in “Naomi.”

Spring is coming, and with it a flurry of emotions entangled with new opportunities the new season brings — like stress about midterms, job searches or heartbreak. These four songs can’t solve your worries about the future, but they may make it a little more bearable while you work through life’s challenges. 

“Take Pills” By Panda Bear 

Musician Noah Lennox — best known for his role as a member of the experimental pop band Animal Collective — channels the slow, beachy southern European vibe in his third solo album “Person Pitch.”   

Most of “Person Pitch” was written while Lennox was in Portugal. After his guitar was accidentally held up in customs, he relied heavily on a digital music sampler. Despite the listless singing and relaxed tambourines, “Take Pills” masterfully interweaves an anachronistic, analog quality with samples of high-pitched metallic clanging against calming, bubbling water. 

While most of the track’s character extends from its tranquil quality, “Take Pills” conversely touches on themes of overcoming and resilience. Lyrics like “Everything else you can leave behind / Only one thing at a time / Anything more really hurts your mind” suggest a philosophy of dealing with one’s troubles gradually.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of “Take Pills” is the punchy, lo-fi crossfade bubbles rising up from the background roughly halfway through the song, taking on a distinctly airy quality and faster tempo. “Take Pills” is the musical equivalent of being gently lifted up and swept along by the current of life. 

“What She Might Say to Me” By Puzzle

Fletcher Shears’s distinctively whimsical style shines in “What She Might Say to Me.” Being one half of the experimental rock band The Garden, Shears’s music is often a blend of synth and hypnagogic pop. “What She Might Say to Me” is no different, packed with chill synths and electronic drums. 

Shears’s devil-may-care approach to writing song lyrics is also apparent. Lines like, “A lot of people seem fine / I’m not on that cloud / So I keep my garbage in a styrofoam box / Because who’s got the time / for these types of thoughts” reflect his ambivalence about the future.

Possibly explaining his artist moniker, Shears has stated previously he makes the music of Puzzle for himself. Though not as complex, “What She Might Say to Me” maintains a unique weirdness,  making it the perfect song to play when you don’t know what to feel. 

“Strange” By Galaxie 500

Alternative rock band Galaxie 500’s indie-hit “Strange” captured the angst of Generation X upon its 1989 release. First playing as students at Harvard, Galaxie 500 released “Strange” as the fourth track on their second album, “On Fire.” Though they only lasted four years, Galaxie 500 released three stellar albums before breaking up. 

Vocalist and guitarist Dean Wareham’s delivery captures the band’s existential angst. Lyrics like “Why’s everybody look so strange? / Why’s everybody look so pretty? / What do I want with all these things?” reference the banal experience of intoxicatedly purchasing cream-filled sponge cakes and mass-market carbonated beverages. 

Drummer Damon Krukowski’s volatile playing soon cuts the slow, languid tempo of guitarist Dean Wareham. The song is textured by sloshy high hats and Wareham’s stressed vocals. 

“Strange” especially shines during long solitary walks across Grounds or through the Corner, ideally on a Friday evening during the first break of spring. 

“Naomi” By Neutral Milk Hotel

American singer-songwriter Jeff Mangum is known for writing with his heart on his sleeve, and “Naomi” off of Neutral Milk Hotel’s first album “On Avery Island” is no different. 

Neutral Milk Hotel is characterized by harsh distortion, obscure lyrics and Mangum’s timid, Louisiana accent. “Naomi” opens with the twang of a scratchy guitar and the clacking of drumsticks for a full minute before breaking into a cacophony of drums, distortion and chords from a vintage digital organ. 

The song details Mangum’s obsession with Naomi Yang, a member of the band Galaxie 500.

Mangum’s cryptic and emotional lyrics shine through the lo-fi production. “Your prettiness is seeping through / Out from the dress I took from you” and “There is no Naomi in view / She walks through Cambridge stocks and strolls” contrasts Mangum’s apparent acknowledgment of how fruitless his worship of her is.

Listeners who have experienced the swirl of love, hatred, envy and futility of an asymmetric relationship may find some solace in “Naomi.”

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