By Charlotte O’Hara (she/her)
From the change in the leaves and the weather to the stress of starting a new academic year and the fast-approaching exams, Autumn is a season that can have a lot of different connotations, but love it or hate it, everyone will agree that it can be nice to escape the cold and gloomy streets of Glasgow – even if just in your mind, for an hour or so.
This list is a starting point for Autumn’s listening. Whether they will be the perfect soundtrack to your favourite seasonal activities or offer relief from the thoughts that can plague one’s mind this time of year, these six albums will hopefully see you through to Christmas.
RED (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift (2021)
You simply cannot talk about Autumn classics without mentioning Taylor Swift’s RED. From “Autumn leaves falling down like piece onto place” to the famous scarf metaphor, Swifties have long considered this album the pinnacle of autumnal vibes. And now, with its 2021 revamp, including the addition of 9 unreleased tracks, RED (Taylor’s Version) has been exposed to a wider audience than ever.
Aesthetically, the album conjures images of the classic Tumblr autumn we are all too used to seeing; pumpkin spice lattes, big scarves, and cold hands in warm bookshops. However, the album also fits into the autumnal vibe through its strong themes of transition; RED was a coming of age for Swift, not only in Swift’s personal life as she details her first real heartbreak and illustrates the craziness of one’s early twenties but in her stylings as well- finally making the complete jump from country to pop. The album is regarded by many as Swift’s magnum opus. Yet, it remains an easy listen with heartbreakingly relatable lyrics and has become a go-to for many on a cold autumn day.
Home Video – Lucy Dacus (2021)
From the colour of the leaves to the sudden drop in temperature, the season of autumn has always been associated with change. The start of the new academic year only exacerbates the feelings of transition, whether it’s a new course, a new flat, or even a new city, one can’t help but feel daunted by the opening of a new chapter.
Lucy Dacus perfectly captures the turbulence of these emotions in her third album, Home Video. A combination of bright indie guitars, haunting ballads, and worship-music-inspired pop are tied neatly together by clever lyrics and Dacus’ stunning vocals. For what it’s worth, Home Video reminds us that if Lucy could survive it, so can we.
Teens of Denial – Car Seat Headrest (2016)
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of wallowing every now and then; however, Autumns in Glasgow provide the perfect backdrop a little too often. From the rain pelting off your window to the cold, gloomy mornings, it can be easy to slip into a bit of a downer.
Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 album Teens of Denial reminds us that were not alone in this feeling. Backed by energetic indie instrumentals of fuzzy guitar and pounding drums, Will Toledo tells all, from his personal feelings of inadequacy to his battle with the quintessential “teenage experience.” Toledos’ ability to create such insightful lyrics that still remain relatable and accessible is what helps Car Seat Headrest stand out from the crowd of indie rock acts these days. Teens of Denial is an album that reminds us that it’s perfectly normal to just feel kind of lame, and sometimes that’s all you need to know.
Better Oblivion Community Centre – Better Oblivion Community Centre (2019)
Some genres are just made and meant to be enjoyed while wrapped up warm on a cold day, and folk rock is one of them. This collaborative project between Phoebe Bridgers and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst is a blend of the best features of two incredible artists. From their devastatingly charming lyricism to the mixing of Obrest’s tones and Bridgers’ ethereal vocals, this album has a certain type of magic that’s hard to explain.
The laid-back instrumentals are paired with lyrics that tell of the hopelessness and helplessness of life these days; however, peppered amongst the fatalism, there is a sweet sense of optimism, a desire to better oneself. This album is sure to delight and devastate at the same time, making those cold dark Autumn days slightly more bearable.
Tapestry – Carole King (1974)
It’s not just albums that can be hallmarks of the season; ask pretty much anyone about Autumnal television shows, and it won’t be long before “Gilmore Girls” is brought into the mix. Just the opening chords of the theme song conjure a feeling of nostalgia that acts as a warm blanket during the colder months. But why not discover the album that the iconic theme originates from?
Carole Kings’ Tapestry is so iconic and beloved that it’s hard not to let yourself be transported away from the greys of Glasgow and into the smokey New York apartment that acted as the birthplace of this masterpiece. The album brought us so many iconic tunes, with smash hits such as ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ and ‘You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman).’
Tapestry is brimming with Kings’ signature simple yet beautiful lyrics, making it one of the twentieth century’s most-loved albums. The themes of love, longing, and friendship paired with the stripped-back production make the listener feel as though they are being serenaded, creating an album so comforting you can’t help but smile as you hear those opening chords.
So Tonight That I Might See – Mazzy Star (1993)
Mazzy Star’s sound is hallmarked by lead singer Hope Sandoval’s dreamy vocals, and the delicate arrangement of otherwise harsh instrumentals. This culminates in a listening experience that is both enthralling and relaxing. Sandoval’s vocals have become indicative of the 90s Alternative movement – sweet, crooning, yet paired with lyrics that don’t shy away from detailing the darker sides of life and love.
Even the album’s biggest hit, ‘Fade into You’–considered one of the best love songs of all time–has lyrics that swing between the lovely and the despairing. So Tonight That I Might See creates a vibe so comforting and perfect for those rainy journeys home from a long day at university, just like a warm blanket that melodies wrap their listener up and take them to a warmer, softer place.
Pitch given by Danny Munro
Edited by Theerada Moonsiri