22 votes

Looking for albums that are both beautiful and melancholic

This is hard to describe, but I'm looking for albums that I can kind of wallow in a bit emotionally, but that are also beautiful musically, aesthetically, or lyrically.

Because it's difficult to put into words, here's an example of a song that kind of has the vibe I'm going for: Snail Mail's "Deep Sea". It's sad but not too sad, and I find the arrangement and melody to be resonant and, well, beautiful. I want something that feels like this, but across a whole album (note that the "feel" doesn't apply to the genre of the song so much as it does my emotional response to it).

I'm open to any suggestions. Bandcamp preferred, but not required.


UPDATE: A huge thank you to the community for all your recommendations! I have a lot of wallowing to look forward to.

28 comments

  1. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. DougM
      Link Parent
      Fantastic list!! Sigur Ros - Untitled is my go-to sleep music. It’s a rotation of that, Brian Enos music made for airports, and Explosions in the Sky.

      Fantastic list!! Sigur Ros - Untitled is my go-to sleep music. It’s a rotation of that, Brian Enos music made for airports, and Explosions in the Sky.

      3 votes
  2. Deimos
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    A few that I like that all stay pretty close to Snail Mail's style (I wouldn't be surprised if you know some or all of these artists already). Some of these albums might have songs that are too...

    A few that I like that all stay pretty close to Snail Mail's style (I wouldn't be surprised if you know some or all of these artists already). Some of these albums might have songs that are too upbeat, I'm not certain:

    6 votes
  3. RiveGauche
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    Sigur Ros Ágætis Byrjun

    Sigur Ros Ágætis Byrjun

    5 votes
  4. no_exit
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    I had Andy Shauf's The Party and I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone by Chastity Belt in heavy rotation a long time for this reason among others.

    I had Andy Shauf's The Party and I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone by Chastity Belt in heavy rotation a long time for this reason among others.

    5 votes
  5. [2]
    mono
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    Anything by David Bazan or his band Pedro the Lion. I'd describe his music as "melancholy folk", if that's a thing. He was a sort of a Christian artist before losing his faith, and a lot of his...

    Anything by David Bazan or his band Pedro the Lion. I'd describe his music as "melancholy folk", if that's a thing. He was a sort of a Christian artist before losing his faith, and a lot of his lyrics are about him dealing with the struggle of that and the general shittiness of the world. They're extremely poetic and emotional. Trust me, you'll like him a lot.

    In the same vein and a friend of Bazan's is TW Walsh.

    5 votes
    1. tomf
      Link Parent
      A fellow Bazan fan in the wild! What are the chances! For @kfwyre I'd definitely go with the other Coolidge alum, Damien Jurado (any record) :)

      A fellow Bazan fan in the wild! What are the chances!

      For @kfwyre I'd definitely go with the other Coolidge alum, Damien Jurado (any record) :)

      3 votes
  6. antiolrach
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    King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine (Bob Boilen (of NPR Tiny Desk Concert fame) said this is one of his favourite albums!) Frances Quinlan - Likewise Very wordy and abstract but definitely...
    5 votes
  7. [2]
    jzimbel
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    Two suggestions— In a strange bit of coincidence, the artist Deep Sea Diver is pretty close to what you’re looking for; maybe a little more energetic than the track you linked but overall has a...

    Two suggestions—

    1. In a strange bit of coincidence, the artist Deep Sea Diver is pretty close to what you’re looking for; maybe a little more energetic than the track you linked but overall has a melancholy feel and the lead singer sounds similar. Here’s one by them that feels close-ish to your linked track.
    2. I’m honestly a little upset that they haven’t already been mentioned by someone: almost everything by The National has a melancholy aesthetic. Energy varies widely from track to track. A lot of their older songs fit closer to your linked track: About Today, Without Permission. Also check out some of the more “polished” tracks, like I Need My Girl and Light Years.
    5 votes
    1. jzimbel
      Link Parent
      Also, a slightly more out-there recommendation: the album Amami by Ikue Asazaki is really beautiful and melancholic but features a traditional singing style from the Ryukyu islands that might not...

      Also, a slightly more out-there recommendation: the album Amami by Ikue Asazaki is really beautiful and melancholic but features a traditional singing style from the Ryukyu islands that might not be for everyone. It’s on Spotify but here’s the first track: Obokuri

      2 votes
  8. herson
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    You can listen to Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time by Candy Claws, I one of my all time favorites, it feels very cozy sad, beautiful and a little bit frightening at the same time. They also have...

    You can listen to Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time by Candy Claws, I one of my all time favorites, it feels very cozy sad, beautiful and a little bit frightening at the same time.
    They also have another album more themed around the sea (In the Dream of the Sea Life) to match more the motif of the example you gave.

    5 votes
  9. [4]
    krg
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    I don't know that the whole album qualifies, but check out Native Speaker by Braids. I would often put that song on repeat while drinkin and sad myself out (although it's a happy song). On the...

    I don't know that the whole album qualifies, but check out Native Speaker by Braids. I would often put that song on repeat while drinkin and sad myself out (although it's a happy song). On the flipside of that coin, Water Me by FKA Twigs.

    Likewise, Some Things Last a Long Time by Daniel Johnston.

    Annnd...Diamonds by Laura Mvula.

    Allllsssoo...River by Leon Bridges.

    And I think a lot of Nina Simone works in this context. I really like her version of Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues.

    And, maybe a lil closer to the vibe of the song you posted: Golden Days by Whitney.

    Big ups to Carole King, too. (shout out to my momma)

    Okay, sorry. Missed that you were looking for a complete album experience...still, those songs might be worth looking into!

    OH, a whole album that might do the trick for you is Sleepwalker by Long Beard.

    jeeze... I feel like "beautiful melancholy" is something I reach for often. I could probably go on, but I think this is a decent chunk!

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      krg
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      OHHH... I forgot to add this one, but Picture You Staring by TOPS might be an album that qualifies, as well. Particularly, Sleeptalker. and Total Loss by How To Dress Well. I often think of the...

      OHHH... I forgot to add this one, but Picture You Staring by TOPS might be an album that qualifies, as well. Particularly, Sleeptalker.

      and Total Loss by How To Dress Well. I often think of the beginning to Struggle.

      2 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I love your enthusiasm for... melancholy? It works. I'll take it! And no worries about song recommendations instead of albums. I welcome your playlist and am looking forward to listening through it.

        I love your enthusiasm for... melancholy? It works. I'll take it!

        And no worries about song recommendations instead of albums. I welcome your playlist and am looking forward to listening through it.

        2 votes
      2. blake
        Link Parent
        I love that TOPS albums, so good!

        I love that TOPS albums, so good!

        2 votes
  10. moonbathers
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    If you're into metal, beautiful and melancholic is basically Insomnium's calling card. See what you think of The Offering if you're into metal with harsh vocals at all. Its vibe isn't exactly the...

    If you're into metal, beautiful and melancholic is basically Insomnium's calling card. See what you think of The Offering if you're into metal with harsh vocals at all. Its vibe isn't exactly the same as Deep Sea, but I think it blends sadness with ordinarily-happy major chords really well.

    4 votes
  11. rosco
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    I'm possibly heading in a different direction than the rest of the thread, but I believe the Arctic Monkey's latest album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is a gorgeous departure from their usual...

    I'm possibly heading in a different direction than the rest of the thread, but I believe the Arctic Monkey's latest album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is a gorgeous departure from their usual batch of indie-pop and has distilled my melancholic feelings on our current state as a society.

    4 votes
  12. Wulfsta
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    You already have a lot of great recommendations in this thread, but I'll add Pinegrove's Audiotree Live Session and Peach Pit's Being So Normal.

    You already have a lot of great recommendations in this thread, but I'll add Pinegrove's Audiotree Live Session and Peach Pit's Being So Normal.

    4 votes
  13. frostycakes
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    Pale Green Ghosts from John Grant and Obsidian by Baths are my go-to "aesthetic" melancholia albums anymore. EDIT: Can't believe I forgot Lorn's The Maze to Nowhere if you want something...

    Pale Green Ghosts from John Grant and Obsidian by Baths are my go-to "aesthetic" melancholia albums anymore.

    EDIT: Can't believe I forgot Lorn's The Maze to Nowhere if you want something instrumental with melancholic mood.

    I promise this last one is my final edit, but for something a little less oppressively sad, Guster's Lost and Gone Forever is more pop melancholia. Happier, Two Points for Honesty, Fa Fa, and Rainy Day would be my specific selections, but the whole album works as a whole with the melancholia.

    4 votes
  14. spit-evil-olive-tips
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    One of my favorite albums of all time, Live at the Old Quarter by Townes Van Zandt There's a passage in one of the Game of Thrones books where a singer's voice is described as "honey poured over...

    One of my favorite albums of all time, Live at the Old Quarter by Townes Van Zandt

    There's a passage in one of the Game of Thrones books where a singer's voice is described as "honey poured over thunder". TVZ is the closest I've ever heard to that in real life.

    4 votes
  15. mat
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    I've never been sad and in love and taken heroin all at once but I imagine it feels very much like listening to Mazzy Star's So Tonight That I Might See In a slightly different direction,...

    I've never been sad and in love and taken heroin all at once but I imagine it feels very much like listening to Mazzy Star's So Tonight That I Might See

    In a slightly different direction, Dubstar's Disgraceful has a certain melancholia to it.

    4 votes
  16. scissortail
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    Some great suggestions in here already, but I'll toss a couple more in: Bon Iver, Bon Iver Never Were the Way She Was, Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld

    Some great suggestions in here already, but I'll toss a couple more in:

    Bon Iver, Bon Iver
    Never Were the Way She Was, Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld

    3 votes
  17. dotsforeyes
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    Oooh, nice topic! Most of the great stuff is already on here but if you are not averse to non-english songs, allow me to contribute something I find melancholic and beautiful from my country. It's...

    Oooh, nice topic! Most of the great stuff is already on here but if you are not averse to non-english songs, allow me to contribute something I find melancholic and beautiful from my country. It's not folksy and a bit more upbeat but is from a similar vein as the other suggestions here:

    Up Dharma Down - Bipolar

    3 votes
  18. Grzmot
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    I'll try and suggest something a little bit different that still has the feel of what you'd like (I think). Blink-182's newest album NINE has their very distinct punk-rock sound with a focus on...

    I'll try and suggest something a little bit different that still has the feel of what you'd like (I think). Blink-182's newest album NINE has their very distinct punk-rock sound with a focus on drums, but the entire album is about depression, the generational divide and in general carries a very somber tone that contrasts the sharp music heavily. A sneak peek:

    blink-182 - Black Rain

    blink-182 - Remember To Forget Me

    The extended version of their last album also has a song that might be a fit:

    blink-182 - Misery

    In the other direction, I can very much recommend Kimbra's newest album Primal Heart. It has a very soothing tone.

    Kimbra - Past Love

    2 votes
  19. WendigoTulpa
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    Axis Mundi by Brown Bird This is the last album made by a couple before the guy died of leukemia. The first song, "Focus", is sad since its about him going through chemo, but its done in such a...

    Axis Mundi by Brown Bird

    This is the last album made by a couple before the guy died of leukemia. The first song, "Focus", is sad since its about him going through chemo, but its done in such a beautiful, slow, meditative way that can put you in the mindset of someone in that situation. The album itself is sort of processing the whole situation. Not all of the songs are slow and melancholic, but in a way it is if you keep the story behind it in mind.

    2 votes