Five songs that fill the silence with harmonious explosions of sound


Spotify, Photogrid

The album covers for the five songs mentioned in this review

I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy a good “sing-it-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-the-car” song. By no means would I consider myself musically inclined, but there are few things I find more cathartic than attempting to hit all the notes to one of my favorite songs. 

But while many moments in my 2009 Cadillac call for songs of this nature, I’ve found that others call for a different sort of catharsis—the type of music that I can feel with my whole body, that separates into shapes in my mind, that transports me into a web of memories and distinct emotions that aren’t my own.

I’ve recently collected an exquisite assortment of these songs—songs that are all perfectly acceptable for performances in the car but, more importantly, possess an acoustic beauty that makes me proud to add them to my playlist and capture them with my words. 

“Don’t Let The Neighbourhood Hear” and “22 Break” by Oh Wonder

My introduction to Oh Wonder was courtesy of a review written by Abby Wright during my sophomore year. To this day, I feel a flutter of happiness when I hear their song “Hallelujah,” and it’s the epitome of a song that is simply stunning to listen to. 

When their most recent releases popped up on my Spotify homepage, I was quick to tap. 

“22 Break” was the most instantly pleasing, with a beautifully blended intro that led into a chorus that felt like nearing the peak of a mountain, building like footsteps. The simple and repetitive post-chorus is effortlessly called to mind when I think of this song, so it circulated in my head more readily than “Don’t Let The Neighbourhood Hear.”

However, after listening to “Don’t Let The Neighbourhood Hear” a few times, I was able to quickly distinguish it as my favorite between the two. The opening beats inexplicably feel like droplets of crystal, like beads of water hitting a stained glass window, and these opening notes wash over me for a few moments before the lyrics begin. 

It’s at the pre-chorus that I find myself falling completely in love. The cadence with which Josephine Vander Gucht—one of two artists who comprise Oh Wonder—sings the lyrics “I wish I had a motorbike//Would only wanna race it” caught my attention the first time and has sent chills through my body every single time since. There is something about the slow plunk of piano keys in the background and the drawn out wave of her voice that has me entranced like a drug I can’t escape. 

Throughout most of the song, a beautiful jazz medley hovers in the background, and it ties together the picture of a messy love story that this song paints. It speaks of late nights in the city, of live music in the lobby of hotels, of desperation and danger and leather jackets. 

Needless to say, these two releases from Oh Wonder have me ridiculously excited for their newest album, coming out on Oct. 8.

“Older” by Alec Benjamin

Alec Benjamin was undeniably the soundtrack to my summer of 2020, and his song “Jesus in LA” was my most listened to track from 2020, so there’s a certain component of nostalgia that accompanies his music for me. 

His most recent release, “Older,” evokes not only this expected nostalgia, but also a poignant sadness. It’s devastatingly gorgeous to listen to, but the lyrics are the real magic; I hear something new every time I play this song. 

“Guess my childhood is over//Now I’m taking down my posters//And I’m telling all my friends we’ll get together next October.”

I can feel the weight of these lyrics on my heart and in my soul, and it evokes images of the near future when I’ll leave my childhood home, say goodbye to my childhood bedroom. 

“Older” is not only an emotional experience, but also a depiction of Benjamin’s talent as an artist. He maintains a rapid pace in his chorus, similar to that of “Alamo,” leaving little room for processing so that the full weight of the song doesn’t hit you until after it’s finished playing. 

“Struck By Lightning (feat. Cavetown)” by Sara Kays

I first heard this song in the passenger seat of Emma Zawacki’s car, as I’ve been discovering most of my music recently. It was instantly a hit in my book, and since then has played in room 139 every morning while we edit, much to Mr. George’s dismay. 

Sara Kays’ voice is angelic, to say the least, and it transforms the opening lyrics of this song. The strumming guitar in the background and the rises and falls of her voice instantly transports me. Her lyrics echo of rainy days, of friendship that surpasses predefined limits, of a beautiful and mysterious story. 

I am quickly lost in this song, one with its harmonious background vocals, as it blends together in a swirling watercolor of blues and grays, forever reminding me of rainy car rides and mornings in the TCT room that I hope to never forget. 

“Record Player (with AJR)” by Daisy the Great

This song just makes me happy. 

I first heard a variation of it on TikTok and looked it up on Spotify. I found “The Record Player Song” by the band Daisy the Great, and I was disappointed because it lacked the whimsical energy I’d been hoping for from it. 

However when Daisy the Great released this version with AJR, it delivered exactly what I’d been searching for initially.

The song opens with a rhythm that seems to line up with my heartbeat every time, steady and crackling before Daisy the Great’s voices gently float in. The lyrics themselves are mesmerizing and paint a perfectly quaint picture, but the staticky vibration that intermingles with their voices at the line “it came out a sea-sick sort of green” draws me in and doesn’t let it go. 

The harmony of their voices together at the second chorus continues to develop a layered sound, punctuated by electronic sounds in the background that don’t detract from the natural dimension of the song. 

AJR’s part only adds to this multi-dimensional sound, with the swing of his voice as he sings “down, down, down.”

Each unique voice and distinct sound in this song twine together in threads of blues, greens, and yellows, like a warm spring day peppered with golden sunshine.

The addictive qualities that each of these songs possess has me queuing them on Spotify hour after hour, but I haven’t grown sick of them yet. Until I do, I will allow them to play on repeat, evoking distinct emotions with each meticulous beat and honeyed lyric.