The Summer of Break-Up Albums

With summer nearing its end, there’s a lot of last minute plan making to ensure you have a great story to share when inevitably being asked what you did for the last few months. You’ll probably hear the most about lavish vacations, parties, or little day trips with friends. While I’m fortunate that my summer consisted of all three, my choice would not be to respond to that question with any of those options. What did I do this summer? I spent it finding solace in music.

Three talented, musically gifted queens came to my rescue this summer when I was confronted with a situation I was having a lot of difficulty with: heartbreak. Halsey, SZA, and Lorde put out their own mind-blowingly good break-up and glow up records back in June. The timing of it all felt like fate, even if I didn’t want to believe back then that I’d experienced an end and not a mere temporary halt. Still, I felt the sadness they sang about. The confusion. The loneliness. The irrational feeling that I myself wasn’t enough, when the reality is that you can be more than enough on your own, but if it’s not the right person, it still won’t work.

Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom confronts toxic relationships and how you go from being under that spell and feeling blind to the harsh actuality of the situation, to breaking free and finally seeing you deserve so much better. One of the tracks that packed the biggest punch for me was, “Lie.”

“All I’m sayin’ is if you don’t love me no more then lie”

Being in that state of mind where you’d rather go on pretending everything is fine, instead of confronting the truth and having to process that someone you held close no longer wants to be part of your life might just be the hardest part of dealing with the end.

“Eyes Closed,” is another powerful song on the record that everyone can relate to in their moving on process. It’s when you attempt to force yourself to move forward by going out and meeting new people in hopes you can erase the person from your past and replace them, when the truth is, you can’t. They’ll always be there and throwing yourself into a new person isn’t going to fix things, it’ll just make you feel lonelier.

SZA’s CTRL was an album I came across by chance, and yet it’s the one that I worship the most. The heart-wrenching emotions depicted in these tracks are palpable. Listening to this record is a lot like watching a movie and being taken through someone’s journey in a shortened time, leaving you at a loss for words when it’s over. It’s overall message is right there in the title. It’s all about the aftermath of a relationship and the utter confusion when that person still comes around. It’s that capability of getting to know yourself again and being your own person and becoming better than you were even before you met them. It’s regaining control of your life after that downward spiral.

The album opener, “Supermodel,” goes from that strong-independent-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man mindset, right into those invasive thoughts where you worry you were the sole reason they left. It’s especially hurtful to see that person move on when you still feel stuck, but that’s usually them trying to compensate and appear like they’re fine when they’re also feeling like a wreck.

“Why am I so easy to forget like that                                                                                       It can’t be that easy for you to get like that                                                                          […]                                                                                                                                           Leave me lonely for prettier women                                                                                   You know I need too much attention                                                                                   For shit like that                                                                                                                       You know you wrong                                                                                                               For shit like that”

This transitions into track #2, “Love Galore,” which questions that well-known outcome when the person who left comes crawling back. They could be alone, or they could be with someone new, but you’re still on their mind and they’re realizing what you meant to them and that they should have never left in the first place. All this does is throw you off course and complicate things further.

Finally, Lorde’s Melodrama is a much more straightforward approach to what it feels like to give so much of yourself to a person, only to come out the other side feeling almost like strangers. My favorite song off of the record, “ Hard Feelings/Loveless,” starts sweet and slow, recalling that initial excitement at the start of the relationship, then coming back down from the nostalgia and seeing how displaced you’ve become from those happier times. Rather than end on a sentimental note, the song picks up the pace a bit and calls out our generation for being loveless and “fucking with our lover’s heads,” which is something we can all agree is too common in the dating game these days.

Once you’re spending so much time with yourself trying to cope and get back on track, you try to do things that can distract you or leave you feeling rewarded. I have a tendency to explore my creative side, which means writing. A lot. “Writer In The Dark,” feels like a moving on high note. It’s that release you get from spilling your guts out, venting, crying, creating—whatever you need to do to get to a good point. Once you’ve let it all out, you almost feel reborn. For me, it’s immortalized in prose. You can go back and relive it if you so choose, but with the passing of time, your connection to it feels different. Somewhere down the line, you feel like you can’t relate even a little bit. That’s when you know you’ve come out the other side stronger.

“Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark                                                       Now she’s gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart”

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