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A Decade in Music

By Andrew Broadley (he/him)

It can feel like forever ago, perhaps even forgotten. Boxed away in the attic of your mind. And in an instant it can be there before you. It could be a memory that hadn’t been recalled since it was not a memory at all. Or it could be a memory you actively recall often. Our senses can conjure up the most obscure relationships to our mind, and music in particular has the ability to grab memories and place them down so close you could touch them.

I decided to reflect on some key songs from my life. Ones that hold entire memories, or evoke entire periods of my life, all within a single bar of their score. They may not reflect my overall taste at the time, and they may not even be from the year (or decade) in which I have listed it here. But this is a collection of tracks that have meant something to me, over the last decade of my life.

2021: Twice – I can’t stop me

2020 threw all our lives into lockdown and we all coped with this differently. I personally fell into a dark hole of K-pop (in my defence I was in a K-pop obsessed household). And so far K-pop has continued through into my 2021, and none more so than this track (that is actually from 2020). Twice infected my mind with their catchy melodies and cutesy personas but with this single they stepped things up. It’s slick, it’s powerful, they can’t stop themselves from killing the game and I can’t stop myself from boogieing the fuck out when I hear this track. That massive chorus has major Carly vibes (Rebecca got angry at me for that comment) but fuck it, I stand by it and I stan this track.

2020: The 1975 – Frail state of mind

Speaking of 2020 and lockdown, I was lucky enough to spend mine by the beach. Surrounded by sunsets and sandy shores, and an overwhelming uncertainty, this The 1975 track gave me the vibes and the feels. An infectious two step beat has long been my jam, and when it’s slid under a moody melody or vocal it really gets me vibing. My daily walks were soundtracked by this single; strutting along as Matt Healy crooned over his frail mental health in a sea of autotune. We all felt vulnerable, but it felt good to vibe about it.

2019: Yves Tumor – Lifetime

Punchy drums, complexly competing melodies, and then the depth of the bass. The instrumentation on this track (and most of Yves Tumor’s work) is exceptional, seriously those drums <3 but lyrically this track threw me into nostalgia from the first time I heard it. Living overseas at the time, the desperation and raw emotion of Tumor’s vocal performance aligned with what I was feeling at the time. “I miss the days out in BiscayneI miss my brothers” I was reminded of my days out in Newtown, living with my best friends in a shitty flat, my first of many. I remembered the nights laughing and listening to music, smoking weed and hosting parties. sigh. Tell your boys you love them.

2018: The Beatles – Norwegian Wood

2018, lol. I was feeling pretty damn lost, so I threw myself back into books. Haruki Murakami was the first I returned to (I’m a walking stereotype) and although Norwegian Wood (the novel) isn’t Murakami’s best work, reading it thrust me back down a Beatles rabbit hole for the first time in years. Rubber Soul as a whole is one of their strongest records, and 'Norwegian Wood' is the star of it.

2017: Gorillaz – Up on Melancholy Hill

This year was spent backpacking across Asia and on one particular day I found myself on a tropical island off the southern coast of Cambodia. I was with my best friend, and we wandered inland from the white-sand shores, through some forest, and back out to the shore on the other side. With no one else around, we nestled down on an open section of flat rock. The daily high tide had smoothed away the surface, leaving a large grey pancake and ample seating to watch the sunset. Bino, the name of our trusty UE Boom speaker, chimed away to this track. We lit up a joint and watched as the sun set on the horizon, melting into the water.

2016: Yung Lean & Thaiboy Digital – Diamonds

The Uber has been booked, drinks are being necked and teeth are being brushed. There’s only time for one last track. THIS.IS.THAT.TRACK. What can I say except... The baaaaaaasssss. It was my leaving song nearly every night-out of 2016. Fucking rumbled my bedroom thanks to my only investment at the time being a quality soundsystem.

2015: It G ma – Keith Ape

Wow... talk about the friggin zeitgeist. This track was crazy. That ridiculous polyphonic melody had the white boys jumping! The final verse, by Japanese rapper Kohh, carried this. The way he subdued expectations, only dipping his toes back into predictability where he felt the need – it opened my world to non-English language rap and music as a whole. In the words of that very verse: never never never forget.

2014: A$AP Rocky & Skrillex – Wild for the night

The summer of 2013/2014 I got a job in a garden centre. Prior to my interview I had planned my excuse as to why I couldn’t work Sundays and had resigned myself to a compromise of a long shift on Saturday. When I arrived at the interview, they apologetically told me they could only offer me work three days a week, Monday – Wednesday. Lol. With no living costs that was plenty to line my pockets while keeping my weeks freed up for ample shithousery. This summer was great. All ‘teenage coming of age’ bullshit. The short lived La De Da festival was in full swing, and after blacking out in a tent I revived myself just in time for A$AP Rocky’s chaotic set. WILD FOR THE NIGHT roflmao.

2013: Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I & II)

I was pretty sad this year, if you couldn’t tell by the track choice. An overall bad mental state coupled with a breakup left me moping about to Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Halfway through the track, everything comes to a pause and Vernon collects himself before diving into the closing half. The brief refrain feels like that moment when you have been tentatively talking to someone about an issue, but then accept it’s time to stop holding back and you truly open up. When that time does come, it’s a delicate progression that builds into a wall of sound without you noticing until it’s too late and literal chainsaws are revving away under the fragility of acoustic guitars. Multiple vocal tracks all competing for mic space sing “what might have been lost?” on repeat and at the time, that felt so big.

2012: Purity Ring – Crawlersout

I remember sitting in the Burger King car park late at night when my mate plugged into the aux. “It’s called witch house,” he told me. A BK chicken is usually enough to make my night, but this made my memory. I had never heard anything like it. Delicate and ethereal, but with trap-hats and the wash of shoegaze all over it. It was pulling from all corners of the music spectrum and my god did it work. Purity Ring never did top this album, and witch house is long dead, but this track never will be.

2011: M83 – Midnight City

Yooooooooooo! This song will forever slap. As a recovering and often relapsing bogan, it played a key part in my shifting tastes. At the time I was deep into classic rock, 90s grunge, metal, and folk, and I had even swung to the corners of Metalcore and Emo. But barring a brief ‘shuffling’ moment in my tweens, I hadn’t properly crossed over into the electronic. Yet from the moment I heard that lead synth, through to the knockout punch of the sax solo at the end, that would change. It gave me familiar elements. The dramatic snare drums of metal, the washed out and underperformed vocals that gave a nod to the shoegaze and 90s grunge I knew already. It showed me the links. The way something could be so far from something else, but still tied together. It is part of the reason I now dip and dive across decades of music and across the spectrum of genre. Thanks M83.


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