The guide to sad girl autumn

Photos courtesy of Pitchfork

From ‘60s alternative songwriters to modern dream-pop artists, women write some of the saddest anthems of all time.

With highly-anticipated music releases from Taylor Swift and Adele scheduled mid-November, social media’s response is “sad girl autumn.” The seasonal music trend features sad lyrics, beautifully-haunting melodies and slow instrumentals. If you’re tired of listening to Phoebe Bridgers’ “Punisher” over and over again, here are some recommendations for other sad girl tracks.

Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker’s collaborative project, Boygenius, released its self-titled EP October 2018 and every track still holds-up. The first track, “Bite The Hand,” is the outlier of the six – showcasing a grittier, borderline-shoegaze sound with the catchy chorus “I can’t love you how you want me to…”  an on-brand sad girl autumn lyric. From “Me & My Dog” to “Ketchum, ID,” the rest of the EP features the harmonies of the three members and beautifully spacious acoustic guitar. 

“Soft Sounds from Another Planet” by Japanese Breakfast is the ethereal, dream-pop record to play on a rainy Tacoma evening. The 2017 album does it all, showing an impressive range of hyper-dream pop, sparkling instrumentals, catchy shoegaze and soft acoustic songs with flowing strings. Tracks like “This House” and “Till Death” highlight Michelle Zauner’s lyrics with powerful backing tracks. “Road Head,” a Japanese Breakfast staple, combining the best elements into the perfect autumn shoegaze singalong.

Haley Henderickx’ 2018 album, “I Need to Start a Garden” is full of stripped-down songs with emotional vocals and intricate acoustic guitar lines. Arguably the saddest album out of the bunch, songs like “Show You a Body” and “Worth It” are stand-alone performances with perfect vocals. “Jo” is a melancholy love song with melodic vocal lines such as “I slept like a baby with you in my arms.” Full of “oo’s” and white space, this album is the perfect soundtrack to a hot bath post-studying.

The seemingly sudden explosion of women in the sad girl autumn genre wouldn’t exist today without contributions from artists like Aimee Mann, Bjork and Neko Case. The shoegaze sound in the genre, heard in My Bloody Valentine’s “To Here Knows When” and PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love,” was pioneered by women of color like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her heavily-distorted electric guitar in gospel songs like ‘Up Above My Head” in the late 1930s. This sad girl autumn, check out new artists like beabadoobee and bb sway along with paying homage to the artists that paved the way for them, like Lynn Castle, Dusty Springfield and Alice Coltrane. 

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