A number of recent studies have supported the seemingly paradoxical theory that sad music generally tends to relieve its listener’s melancholic thoughts. Contrary to previously-held beliefs that sad music would only lessen its listener’s mood across the board, experts have now given us a gloriously gloomy green light: Go ahead and wallow in that sadness.
Movies, books, and the finales of your favorite TV shows all might do the job in their own rights, but nothing conjures tears quite like a sad song. Though experts haven’t yet been able to pinpoint exactly why, it takes a lot of focus for our brains to comprehend all the nuances and complexities of music; still, researchers have found that people can recognize emotions conveyed in music even after sustaining damage to parts of the brain involved in comprehending melody.
So it’s no wonder that sad songs are so cathartic — whether listening to them, or making whole albums of them. Here, we’ve rounded up just 20 of the most bleak, grim, melancholic albums out there for the most efficient commiserating.
Check out our best sad albums list below.
20. Greet Death, New Hell
At times, Greet Death’s New Hell feels like a freefall into an endless abyss. Other times, it’s an ascension up to an unknown sublime. Taking notes from slow-core, doom metal, and shoegaze, the Michigan band’s second album is one of the most concentrated works of catharsis in recent years. Thanks to touching melodies, rich textures, and tearjerking extended outros, the record lives up to its ominous name. Then, above it all, comes stark lyrics capturing the experience of dealing with mental illness (“Well the days are getting shorter/ All your friends stopped coming over/ And you’re losing your composure/ You should sleep less, we should talk more”). All of which is to say, if you see a friend listening to “Do You Feel Nothing?” or “Strange Days,” maybe check in on them. — Jonah Krueger
19. Saba, CARE FOR ME
Already a great storyteller, Saba brought his artistry to another level on CARE FOR ME by channeling the grief of losing his best friend and cousin Walter “John Walt” Long Jr. Over lush, funky production, the Chicago rapper opens up with raw, emotional lyrics delving into depression and anxiety. Though Saba shares stories specific to his own life, he does it without holding the listener at arm’s length. Instead, his conversational flow keeps his songs relatable enough to allow people to see their own struggles through a different lens and experience catharsis along with him. — Eddie Fu