Albums

The Best Breakup Albums for the Broken Hearted

Valentine’s Day is usually celebrated by lovers or those hoping to fall in love, but what about the other side of romance, fallout, and despair? Here are ten breakup albums that prove that not everything smells rosy.

Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971)
Mitchell used the songs from this timeless album as a way to process emotional grief and grief, but the arrangements of the songs are so soft and gentle that his uneasy grief can sometimes slip over your head. There is full transparency through Bluewith songs like A case of you, All that I want, California and the title track (and the rest) illustrating how too many confusing and doomed love affairs (including one with James Taylor) can be so miserably unhappy. “Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine”, Mitchell describes the paradox of love in the exquisite A case of you“You taste so bitter and so sweet.”

Blood on the tracks by Bob Dylan (1975)
Dylan said the songs on his 15th album were inspired by Anton Chekhov, but his son, Jakob, once described him as “my parents talk”. Whether Dylan slyly strays from the truth of his (then) wife Sara Lownds’ estrangement is debatable, but what isn’t is how the album digs into the core issues of love. went wrong. Many songs are dripping with remorse, regret and retaliation, no more than silly wind, one of Dylan’s most vindictive works. “You’re an idiot, baby,” he sneers. “It’s a miracle you can still breathe.” Ouch.

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Bob Dylan with his ex-wife Sara Lownds

Bob Dylan with his ex-wife Sara Lownds

Rumors by Fleetwood Mac (1977)
Do you want songs of extramarital affairs, divorces, brutal confessions? You got it. The wonder of Rumors is that it effortlessly mixes all that pain, confusion, guilt and toxicity with a suite of classic pop songs that sound as fresh in 2022 as they did in 1977. Trace your own path, Never go back, Second hand news, Do not stopand Chain (to name just five) display acute emotional defects. While Rumors was never considered a concept album, there is no doubt that its themes coalesced to make it so. “Running in the shadows, to hell with your love, to hell with your lies,” says a line in Chain. Damnation, indeed.

Here, my dear by Marvin Gaye (1978)
It has been described as the most malicious alimony settlement ever to be recorded. Tamla’s top performer Motown (via superlative albums such as What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On) reached a settlement with the lawyers overseeing her divorce from Anna Gordy that she would receive half of the royalties from this double album. Detailing their initial love affair and the bitter end that followed, Here my dear is considered the unambiguously definitive break-up album. Hearing it for the first time, Anna considered suing her ex-husband for invasion of privacy, but later recognized his charms. “One thing I can promise, my friend,” promises Gaye on When did you stop loving me, when did I stop loving you“I will never come back again.”

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Marvin Gaye, whose wife considered suing him after hearing Here, My Dear


Marvin Gaye, whose wife considered suing him after hearing Here, My Dear

Marvin Gaye, whose wife considered suing him after hearing Here, My Dear

Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen (1987)
This is the album in which Springsteen transforms from a maker of arena rock anthems into a songwriter of mature, more poignant material about love gone wrong. The impetus was his disintegrating marriage to Julianne Phillips and his affair with E Street band member Patti Scialfa. In their typical form, mid-tempo pop songs convincingly reflect not only the songwriter’s fear of commitment, but also his moral responsibility. Considered one of Springsteen’s most solemn albums, songs such as Harder than the others, all the heavens will allow, when you are alone and Shiny Disguise (“When you look at me, you better look carefully and look twice. Is it me, baby, or just a shiny disguise?”) are lessons in self-effacing self-discovery.

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Sea Change by Beck (2002)
With the exception of one song (It’s all in your mind), Beck’s eighth album was written during a cold, contemplative time shortly after the end of a nine-year relationship with his fiancée, fashion designer Leigh Limon. Deviantly deviating from the style of his slacker/hip-hop/sampling albums such as Odelay, the musical mood here is hushed acoustics and soaring orchestral arrangements, while the songs’ narratives delve extraordinarily deep into how painful and lonely the end of a once-ideal love can be. “It’s only tears I’m crying. It’s only you I’m losing. I guess I’m fine. No, Beck, you’re not.

For Emma There Is Always by Bon Iver (2007)
“Emma is not a person. Emma is a place where you get stuck. Emma is a pain you can’t erase. So said Bon Iver/Justin Vernon of his first album. If you want a painful story about Vernon’s (then) unhappy life, look no further. Spending three lonely months in a remote hunting cabin in wintry, rural Wisconsin, scarred by a breakup with a girlfriend and a loss of creative purpose, through a haze of depression, Vernon managed to write a batch of songs that would become recognized as a perfect damaged example of emotional exorcism. “I tell my love to destroy everything”, he sings recklessly in Skinny Love“cut all the ropes and let me down.”

The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit (2008)
If the meaning of the album title is shaded (a euphemism for sex), then the lyrical content is crystal clear. Heartbreak, of course, is aplenty, but it’s broken down into areas you don’t normally hear about: the poison some relationships harbor and then release, the intensity of jealousy after the breakup, and – most unusual of all. a male songwriter – the woe of casual sex. Scottish songwriter Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in 2018, distills emotional pain like very few others. “I’m working to erase you,” he sings on the album’s most desperate and bittersweet song, My reverse“I just don’t have the right tools.”

Star-Crossed by Kacey Musgraves (2021)
The American singer-songwriter is stepping out of the country genre into pop music territory with an album she has described as “a modern tragedy”. The songs are inspired by the breakdown of Musgraves’ marriage to fellow American songwriter Ruston Kelly and blend a personal journey of pre-divorce misery and post-divorce healing. There is, however, a balance that unites the unhappiness of a failed marriage with the acceptance of sadness without resentment. If writing the songs was necessary therapy for Musgraves, then listening to him might bring tears to his eyes. “The truth is, I could probably do it myself,” Musgraves sings in good wifesumming up his conflict, “but without him, this house just wouldn’t be a home, and I don’t want to be alone.”

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Adele performs at the 2022 Brit Awards


Adele performs at the 2022 Brit Awards

Adele performs at the 2022 Brit Awards

30 by Adele (2021) Adele’s fourth diary entry is extremely candid about her divorce from Simon Konecki and it may turn out to be the most commercially successful breakup album of all time. “All love is devout”, she sings Cry your heart, presenting the emotion as an out-of-body experience that can also be physically painful. Some have noted that by including brief snippets of voice memos with her nine-year-old son, Angelo, the parental divide is slightly skewed, but the album does not succumb to settling scores. Instead, through a sequence of occasionally brilliant soul/pop songs, delivered with nuanced vocals that go from a whisper to a scream, Adele unbiasedly describes the gradual breakdown of love and heightened self-awareness. (“I swear to god, I’m such a mess, the harder I try, the more I regress,” she sings in Wait).