Here in no particular order are ten of the most depressing albums of all time. Despairing and black, but magnificent as well as moody ! Luxuriate in the misery, and enjoy some brilliant music !

1. Lou Reed : Berlin
No list of this kind would be complete without at least one contribution from 'The Godfather of Punk' and some would say 'The Godfather of Gloom'. There are several albums in Reed's thirty five year music career which you could choose from here, but his 1973 concept album, set in the then divided German capital, twenty five years on still tops the bill. A harrowing tale of a mismatched couple's downfall, it chronicles drug abuse, infidelity, child neglect, violence and suicide. Originally planned as a double album, record label RCA appalled at its grimness reduced it to a single LP and insisted on cuts of nearly fifteen minutes being made to the album which have never been restored. It remains, however, one of the most despairing albums ever recorded, and is both a rewarding and powerful record..

2. John Cale : Music for a New Society
This 1982 album from Reed's former Velvet Underground bandmate is perhaps his most melancholic offering. Written at a time when Cale had a drink problem and was unsure whether he wanted to be a rock star or a classical composer (he ended up being both !), this minimilistic sounding and largely improvised album was described last year by Uncut Magazine as 'an exorcism of personal despair' and 'a snapshot of a man standing on the edge of the abyss'.

3. Leonard Cohen : The Future
The most recent studio album from the well-known miserabilist came out in 1992, although a new record has been promised later this year. 'I have seen the future, baby' Cohen growls on the title track 'It is murder'. The rest
of the album is similarly morose.

4. Sugar : Beaster
A six track mini album released in 1993 by the now disbanded group which Bob Mould fronted after leaving Husker Du. Angst-ridden , and backed by lots of fuelled guitar thrash and feedback, it is one of the most anxious and tense records ever released. Mould, once recording was finished, took to his bed for a fortnight to recover.

5. The Smiths : Meat is Murder
To many people both the most definitive and despairing act of the nineteen eighties. Any one of the Smiths albums, with their often wry kitchen sink descriptions of grey realism, would be appropriate here. 'Meat is Murder'
was however, their first record to reach number one in the album charts and is perhaps their most loved album.

6. Black : Wonderful Life
Don't let yourself be fooled by the ironic title ! This synthesiser-dominated album which came out in 1987 is as bleak as they come, all ten tracks being written by front man, Colin Vernacombe, about his marriage break-up and divorce. Atmospheric and very moody, it is a one-time favourite of Pennyblackmusic's Mr Neil Landowski, who has consequently never been married or divorced.

7. Fields of the Nephilim : Earth Inferno
This live double album from this five piece band was released the same year as they split up in 1991. The title perhaps says it all, as do tracks such as 'Last Exit for the Lost' and 'Dead but Dreaming', but this is one of
the best albums by one of the very best Goth bands, and is an excellent summary of the group's career.

8. Joy Division : Closer
An absolute classic album, and one which regulary reaches high positions in Top 50 and Top 100 polls of all time great albums. Both starkly beautiful and melancholic, it was recorded only weeks before singer Ian Curtis's suicide in 1980, and was released two months posthumously after his death. The favourite album apparantly of George Michael.

9. Nirvana : In Utero
The last Nirvana studio album was recorded in 1993 only months before Kurt Cobain's untimely death. Less polished and slick in production than its predecessor 'Never Mind', and with a rawer sound, it is packed with images
of boredom, sickness, disease and immolates with self-disgust. Hated by record company Geffen on its initial release, it is now seen another classic.

10. Pulp : This is Hardcore
Pulp's masterpiece from last year. There is the same sly, digging wit as on previous records, but this is by far their darkest album yet. 'This is the sound of someone falling apart' sings frontman Jarvis Cocker on the sinister and unhinged opening track 'The Fear'. The rest of the album, is equally bleak, portraying dysfunctional relationships, unsatisfactory and bad sex and on the title track unflinchingly and unglamorously looking at the porn industry. Too graphic and sleazy in subject matter for many tastes,'This is Hardcore' has not sold nearly as well as either of their platinum-selling last two albums, but is well worth listening to if you can take the material.

There are several other almost equally 'depressing' records which did not quite make the Top Ten, but were also considered and are worthy runners-up. These include The Replacements 'Don't Tell a Soul', Love and Money's 'Dogs in the Traffic', The Cure's 'Pornography', Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' and 'The Final Cut'.

Related Links:

Commenting On: The Top Ten Most Deprssing Al - Blacker than Black

ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment

First Previous Next Last