My Ugly Valentine's

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Without getting too into it, I'm not really feeling the holiday this year. So here are my top five songs for bumming out this Valentine's Day (yours may vary):

Mount Eerie - "Moon Sequel
This song—taken from the spare, lo-fi recording Live in Copenhagen—updates and rebukes and violently empties outs the romanticism of the old favorite Microphones song "The Moon." Its simple refrain of "you're gone" repeats 21 times until it becomes an almost nonsensical, animal mantra. And then even that gives way, "But am I lying? Don't I have you in my mind the entire time?" to something that's simultaneously an expression of loss and a lament for the fact that even loss loses its romance, not that that means you won't still be haunted by its shape.

Hot Chip - "Crap Kraft Dinner"
Even if you don't have a lost love with a fondness for prepackaged mac-and-cheese dinners (the odd emotional object of this song), this song should still get to you. The opening variations of the line "All the people I love are here," sung in a frail, melancholy falsetto, sound like they could be describing either a crowded but lonely house party or a memory always populated by all these loved ones even when they're gone, they're gone, they're gone, they're gone, etc.

Carissa's Wierd - "Lazy Eyelids"
Pretty much anything by Carissa's Wierd would work for this purpose (though some songs, like "All Apologies and Smiles, Yours Truly, Ugly Valentine," are more obvious than others), but lately I've been really feeling the glacially unfolding ballad "Lazy Eyelids." It's maybe less catchy or lyrically insistent than some of the band's other songs, but its slow, steady build and eventual climax of male and female voices singing clashing, overlapping lyrics, backed by acoustic-guitar strumming and distant drums and violin is as subtly great as anything they've done. The piano coda is a nice palate cleanser, too.

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Jawbreaker – "In Sadding Around"
So many great, gut-wrenching lines in this song—"Sleeping off the last five years takes another five"... "We're breaking up every single night"... "It's a long way down again," all sung in a kind of free-falling, bottomless, broken howl while the bass, guitars, and drums churn away, bleak but just almost upbeat.

Animal Collective – "Peacebone"
Speaking of palate cleansers, this one's for looking up, for trying to stay young and wild-eyed and hopeful even though you're fucked and sad and growing old. "An obsession with the past is like a dead fly/And just a few things are related to the old times." Much of Animal Collective's new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, mines such veins, but this song from Strawberry Jam, reevaluated on the merits of Merriweather, is doing it for me right now just as well. recommended

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