As a disclaimer, I cannot say any of these albums will cure your mental health, although they sure help me when I’m feeling down. If you don’t have a vinyl record player, it’s a little addition, but there’s something unique about those plastic frisbees and actually having to be involved with your music. There’s just a special feeling about physically owning an album you love and the little boost of serotonin you get when you find that special vinyl in a store.
- “Revolver” — The Beatles
First up we have the Beatles. There is a wide discography of the Beatles, but my favorite album is without a question “Revolver.” “Revolver” is the perfect mix of tracks and it is an album representing human experience and even touching on life and death. From advice to those who die in “Taxman,” to the tragic existence of “Eleanor Rigby” and even the joyous interlude of “Yellow Submarine,” this album encompasses it all. Many people might not think of the Beatles as much other than a popular band, but they revolutionized music and talked about sensitive topics with inviting melodies. Give it a listen. It might not cure you, but it could take your mind to a different atmosphere.
- “Vessel” — Twenty One Pilots
Twenty-One Pilots has long been my personal go-to band when I am feeling down. They have a unique sound and speak a lot on mental health and similar topics, and for me, it has always been nice to hear others talk about many of the same issues that affect me. Tyler Joseph, the lead singer, said it best in regards to the song “Truce” from the album.
“I just wanted to tell people; ‘hang in there, you know, there’s someone out there who does know what you’re going through.’ I know that there’s a lot of bands that say they want to use music to help people and I know a lot of that might be full of crap. But if someone is encouraged, at all, by the music that I write, then my whole life will be justified, so I mean I would be crazy not to try.”
- “22, A Million” — Bon Iver
Bon Iver has a history of folk tunes and is known more for albums like “For Emma, Forever Ago.” In “22, A Million,” Bon Iver takes a little more experimental and strange turn in music, but behind the electronic sounds and autotuned voice is a deeper message. He touches on the idea of impermanence in songs and he seems to be focused on whether or not life has a meaning. This has long been one of the few albums I always seem to return to, and even with the experimental nature, this album is full of beautiful sounds that are hard to find elsewhere. Even if you have never heard of Bon Iver, give this album a shot. It is slower at times, but nevertheless an amazing album especially if you’re feeling down. It’s okay to cry and his lyrics show that with lines like, “Oh then, how we gonna cry? Cause it once might not mean something?”
- “Dark Side of the Moon” — Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd is probably not what most people expected to see on albums about mental health, but hear me out on this one. For a large majority of people who think of Pink Floyd you either think about drugs in the ’70s or it brings up questions like, “Which one is Pink?”, but “Dark Side of the Moon” has a deeper meaning and is not just a do some drugs and “come look at the pretty lights” album. The whole title of the album is a metaphor for darkness and how that can in turn destroy all of the positive emotions and ideas that are an integral part of humanity. The “darkness” represents insanity and that the light from the moon is really an illusion. Overall, the album suggests that everyone is some level of insane or will have to deal with madness in their life which is undoubtedly true.
It is not an easy listen for those unfamiliar with Pink Floyd, but once you get past the instrumental and sampled sounds that randomly appear on tracks you can experience a truly wonderful album. One of the most popular songs, “Time” is a perfect example and the beginning has a quite jarring effect on the listener with a conglomerate of different clocks ringing. However, this song is not just a collection of sounds, but includes hard hitting lines such as
“And then one day you find ten years have got behind you, No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
Give it a shot, ride the wave and experience one of the cornerstone albums of the 20th century.
- “Harry Styles” — Harry Styles
To any guys reading who immediately will dismiss this because it is Harry Styles, give it a listen. Harry’s self-titled album is a great album that is dominated by topics such as women and relationships. This album has a wide variety of songs such as slower soft rock songs like “Meet Me in the Hallway” and “From the Dining Table,” while still having upbeat pop-rock songs like “Kiwi.” Harry Styles has a wide range of talent from ballad-style songs like “Sign of the Times” that show off his vocal range, and more acoustic songs like “Sweet Creature.”
With lyrics like, “We’re just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me, Trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat” he captures the feelings of heartbreak after a relationship. Despite being an album more focused on relationships, it can be applied to a wide range of situations, and it’s hard to not sing along to some of the tracks on here. For anyone going through a tough time, take a listen and see what the hype is about.
- “Terrapin Station” — Grateful Dead
As someone who listens to a wide range of music, I firmly believe you cannot be sad while listening to the Grateful Dead. A significant portion of their songs are upbeat, jam-band style tunes that you can’t help bobbing your head to or maybe even getting up and dancing. The Grateful Dead has one of the largest discographies of many bands with over 200 albums, and most of them recorded live in concert, as they encouraged the recording and further distribution of their music.
The Grateful Dead is a band for the people and one of my personal favorite albums is “Terrapin Station.” The turtles on the cover initially drew me in, but the progressive and jazz-rock on the album kept me listening. Sometimes you need a little boost and songs like “Dancin’ in the Streets” and “Terrapin Station” can get you up and groovin’ and put a pause on any dark thoughts.
- “Blonde” — Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean has always been a great storyteller, but in “Blonde” he became the story. It is a personal album with a wide variety of topics coming straight from Frank Ocean. The album is in my top ten albums of all time and “Blonde” is just an easy listen with almost background music tracks accompanied by Frank’s voice, capturing attention.
The tracks on this album include highly emotional songs for a more quiet, relaxed listening environment. The stories told on this album find relief in sorrow and can bring about emotional responses from the listener. This album mesmerizes and takes a trip into the stories of Frank. The laid-back and relaxed sound of this album overall makes it a favorite of mine to listen to in general, and the content of the songs keeps the listener uniquely and intimately involved.
- “Goodbye and Good Riddance” — Juice Wrld
Juice Wrld was and always will be one of my favorite artists. Juice was not afraid to talk about topics from relationships, drugs and mental health, all while wrapping it perfectly in catchy songs with contrasting, upbeat melodies. This album is focused on his failed relationships through high school, and most of the album revolves around this topic.
On “Lean Wit’ Me” he drops lines like, “Drugs got me sweatin’, but the room gettin’ colder. Lookin’ at the devil and the angel on my shoulder. Will I die tonight? I don’t know, is it over?
Lookin’ for my next high, I’m lookin’ for closure”.
Juice wasn’t ashamed of his bad habits and always chose to turn bad situations into good ones. Regardless of what album of his you listen to, I always manage to find solace in Juice Wrld and I am sure many others will as well.