The Year of Sad Melancholy Dominated a Lot of Artistic Expression in 2017

The Year of Sad Melancholy Dominated a Lot of Artistic Expression in 2017
Artists responded in different ways to tumultuous recent events. Some turned up the party, some expressed their rage outwardly, while others responded more internally. Here are five excellent albums that embraced sadness as a means of expression.

Julien Baker
Turn Out the Lights (Matador)

For Julien Baker, sadness is no cause for despair. She instead rages against heartache on Turn Out the Lights standouts like the full throated title track and the doggedly triumphant "Appointments." By fearlessly confronting her pain, Baker soundtracks catharsis for herself and for listeners that are holding out hope in same way. Kyle Mullin

Big Thief
Capacity (Saddle Creek)

On Capacity, Big Thief's Adrianne Lenker wades into a shroud of darkness, her timid voice emanating grace and clarity while cautiously reciting memories from her vulnerable past. Lenker's immersive storytelling is grounded in fear and grief, but the suffering is dispelled with glimpses of lightness and by exposing the agony with a raw embrace. Chris Gee

Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger in the Alps (Dead Oceans)

Phoebe Bridgers reveals sadness in many different forms across Stranger in the Alps. The 23-year-old mourns the loss of icons like Bowie and Lemmy, and alludes to the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" — sharing in a collective misery. But she also turns inwards, juxtaposing her own depression with the tragic death of another kid on "Funeral." Rich with imagery of fire and drowning, blood and bones, an ever-present darkness looms over each of these deceptively pretty-sounding songs. Sarah Murphy

Joanne Pollock
Stranger (Timesig/Planet Mu)

After uprooting her life in Toronto and starting anew in Winnipeg, Joanne Pollock got lost in the shuffle, but stumbled upon a gem of a debut in the process. Speaking to her newfound displacement and an intense desire for collective belonging, Stranger pairs Pollock's searching voice with wonky, swaying electronics, all tinkering along in the darkness to brilliant effect. Tom Beedham

Moses Sumney
Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar)

Deemed a "concept album about lovelessness," Moses Sumney's Aromanticism has sadness built in, but doubles down on it sonically, too: in the yearning strings of "Quarrel," the crushing distortion of "Doomed" and the isolated, plucked guitar of "Indulge Me." It's the perfect album to soundtrack any lonely night. Stephen Carlick