Contented Valentine’s Day lovers get their roses and their chocolates. For everyone else, here are five musical picks to avoid. One Sunday, turn off these tunes — well, aside from one set that’s a reminder of Spring sunshine.
The Rolling Stones: Just My Imagination from Some Girls (1978): The perfect song for one’s first Valentine’s Day as a single. This track, the Stones’ update of a piece by the Temptations, mirrors that joyful experience’s transitional blend of disbelief, distrust and disaffection. Mick Jagger’s daydreams of the girls of New York soon crumble against the weight of his own logic, pushed by Keith Richards’ stuttering, flanged melody. Who knew a guitar could so effectively unbalance hope?
The Sound of the Smiths (2008): This two-and-a-half hour grab bag of pain — of failed nightclub pickups, imploding relationships and soul-searching — is perfectly embodied in Morrissey’s epically hollow delivery. There are no better lyrics to absorb while sitting along in a dark, one-bedroom apartment and eating boxes of chocolate. Key moments: The (emphatically) celibate crooner’s classics Hand in Glove, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and How Soon is Now.
The Magnetic Fields: Mr. Mistletoe from Distortion (2008) Christmas is over, and you’re still alone. What better way to rekindle the feeling of drifting through the snowy streets, dulled by red, white and green lights and the stings of laughter from happy couples than this gem. Buried deep under a gloomy hazy of shoegaze distortion, holiday chimes twinkle and Stephen Merritt’s baritone sighs: “Mistletoe is hanging everywhere, but you no longer care”.
Sky: She’s Some Kinda Wonderful from Piece of Paradise (1999) The spring is coming, the flowers are blooming, and young lovers stroll. You’ve just eaten a Philly cheesesteak, and processed orange gunk is sitting heavy in your gut. Then a car breezes by, a red convertible. A flash of two bobbing blonde heads, singing a hook in unison: “She’s some kinda wonderful, she makes a mean steak and she’s an eyeful.” You run to the nearest shrubbery and unload.
The Format: Dog Problems (2006) OK, time to haul those empty pizza boxes and ice cream pails to the garbage and plug the phone back in. Spring is here, and it’s getting boring. Throw on this brilliant indie-pop concept album for a smart, sincere journey from relationship gutter to stars. Heartbreak and sarcasm — and stories of how dogs can scuttle relationships —have never sounded so damn upbeat.