Every Other House on The Street is Burning - The Top 10 Songs of 2019

These lists are never easy to make; they can be fun, a little daunting, and an absolute chore, all at the same time. From the first moment I hear it, I’m almost always certain what my favorite song of a certain year is going to be. That’s rarely, if ever, the hardest part of these ‘year end’ lists. It’s working backwards from there, and trying to count up to 10.

It’s tough to pick songs (and albums, too, once I get to that list) that are both hopefully going to be timeless, or age well, but also be a part of the zeitgeist. It doesn’t always work that way.

These lists are never easy to make, and in looking back, I’ve found I’ve really struggled with this more than I realized by making concessions, bending rules, or in some cases, really phoning it in. Apparently, last year I couldn’t even name 10 songs—and I didn’t even remember that was an issue for me. There are only five on last year’s list.

This year’s list is all of these things and more. It was fun, and daunting, and a chore; some of these will hopefully age well by even this time next year, but some of them are very of this moment. I made concessions and I bent the rules, but I hope I didn’t phone it in this time around.

Honorable Mention/Bonus Jam

“Still Space” by Satoshi Ashikawa

I would say that it says a lot about music in 2019, and where I am personally at in 2019, that the song that I listened to the most1 isn’t even from this year—it’s from 1983; it’s as old as I am, and the person who composed it died that same year. 

I couldn’t even tell you why I originally thought to download the Light in The Attic retrospective Kanykyo Ongaku, a triple LP that collects a decade’s worth of ambient and ‘New Age’ music from Japan. The opening track on the collection, “Still Space,” hadn’t even finished playing through once on my laptop when I decided to order the set—really only to have that song in a physical form.

Lasting less than four minutes, and really, fading out almost as soon as it had slowly faded in, “Still Space” is literally everything you (and by you I mean ‘I’) could want in a piece of ambient music. It walks the incredibly tight rope of being charming and whimsical sounding, specifically because of its instrumentation, but also being so fucking bittersweet and melancholic. It captures such a tangible feeling in those few minutes, and it’s tough to put into words—so it’s for the best if you just listen, and allow yourself to get caught up in the sheer beauty as it slowly tumbles down around you. 

10 - “02/26/12, Smile #2” by Slauson Malone featuring Maxo

Smile at the past when I see it….

In what was, without a doubt, a breakout year for both Slauson Malone (a.k.a. Jasper Marsalis), Maxo (a.k.a Max Allen), as well as their New York City based associates (too many to mention, here, really) “Smile #2” is probably one of the jauntiest, least oppressive, and most accessible sounding tunes on Marsalis’ blistering, kaleidoscopic A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018, his first ‘genre negative’ release since departing the collective Standing on The Corner. 

“Smile #2” (and yes, there are three other “Smile”-related pieces on the album, takes a slowed down, partially warbled piano sample (arriving only after an otherworldly howl, and the distorted expression, pulled from “Smile #1,” ‘smile at the past when I see it,’) that is both uplifting, and pensive in the way it allows Allen to deliver his practically breathless bars that are on par with some of his most thoughtful work, found on his own LP, released in the first part of 2019.

Sometimes, shit seem out of reach,” Allen begins, “But when it do, I look down, see the glass on the ring—you look close, you can really see your past on repeat, tracing every step back like I’m dragging my feet.” The song, barely even a minute in length, lasts just as long as it needs to, though, and Allen, in one frenetic, reflective verse, says just enough to both get his point about ‘smiling at the past’ across, but leave the listener wanting more. 

9- “Bright Horses” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

And I’m by your side, and I’m holding your hand….

I loved the 2016 album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree, so much that I picked THREE songs off of it and stacked them into one entry on the list of my favorite tunes from that year, and the album itself was tucked in neatly as the my second favorite record. 

Ghosteen, the impossibly difficult new double album from Cave, finds him exploring similar themes from Skeleton Tree (e.g. grief and mortality), but it finds him doing so against a more ambient, sparse palate. At times, it can be quite beautiful—other times, a real challenge. And the album’s second track, from the first ‘disc,’ or whatever, “Bright Horses,” is one of those stark, arresting moments of beauty.

Somber, sweeping, and grand in the way that only Nick Cave could do it, “Bright Horses” moves along without percussion (as does a bulk of this album), and relies heavily on antiquated sounding synthesizers, piano, haunting strings, marimba (?) and eerie wordless singing help to propel the song forward, though the focus is on Cave’s lyrics—and as much as I cringe at describing it this way—but his words arrive like fragmented spoken word poetry.

It’s the lyric “And I’m by your side, and I’m holding your hand,” that made me a believer in both this song, the power it has, and the album itself, which falters at times, but is still impressive in a number of ways. There’s something very, very honest and human about that lyric, and it gets to me, still, every time I hear it. There are other lyrics in this song that are wildly evocative and poignant in their nature: “And everyone has a heart, and it’s calling for something—and we’re all so sick and tired of seeing things as they are….the fields are just fields, and their ain’t no Lord,” he says, wandering into that space between speaking and singing, as he does, in the song’s second verse, creating very vivid imagery that he continues to conjure, almost effortlessly, until the song comes to its conclusion.

8- “What’s Mine” by Caleb Giles featuring Duendita

I’ve seen a lot in these 21 summers…

It’s in the pause. It’s always been in the pause—the small, fragile space that forms in the way Caleb Giles, a rapper wise beyond his years, delivers part of the opening line to his verse: “I’ve seen a lot in these 21….summers,” and it may not seem like a lot to you, or that it matters that much to you, but since I first heard this song, letting its devastating beauty wash over me time and time again, I continually come back to that moment—that very purposeful moment where Giles chooses to stop, however briefly, before he continues his thought with the song’s next line.

“What’s Mine” arrives near the end of Giles’ brilliant third album, Under The Shade, and it’s somber enough, and thoughtful enough, that it could be the album’s closing track, but it isn’t. Not even three minutes in length, the song takes its time with as slow, somewhat dizzying intro before the lyrics arrive—and when they do, the first part, at least, they are sung, and they are surprisingly honest: “Like scaling up a mountain, I’m barely even breathing on my own,” is one that caught my attention right away. And then, with over half of the song already over, the rapped verse arrives—“I’ve seen a lot in these 21….summers, underneath heaven that I’m coming from.”

It’s an audacious lyric, one that, really, says all you need to know about Giles as both a writer, a performer, and a young black man growing up in America. The song’s lyrics take a dramatic, personal shift, as his verse continues—“Living off of checks, stressing, but you wore it tough; You were crying on my shoulder, had me growing up.” And then, the lyrics alternate between being sung, and being rapped, which is a surprisingly successful device used to really get the point of the song across—“My eyes stay dry these days—no tears come down/You really seen it—I really lived what I know…” 

And, quite possibly, the most honest and blunt line in the whole song, arriving near its conclusion—“I’m tired of being tired.”

There are a lot of people out there that dismiss rap music, or don’t understand how powerful and heartbreaking it can be at times when in the hands of the right artist. Giles is that artist, and “What’s Mine” has to be one of hip hop’s most breathtaking moments in recent history. 

7 - “Dawn Chorus” by Thom Yorke

If you could do it all again, you don’t know how much…

The first time I listened to “Dawn Chorus,” the centerpiece track on Thom Yorke’s third solo effort, Anima, I was not prepared for what I was about to hear. I made the mistake of listening to it on my way to work, walking through the still darkened streets—the humidity of the day not yet unbearable, creating a strange, sticky feeling of being both chilled, and overheated.

Emotionally, I was nowhere near ready for Dawn Chorus,” which is without a doubt the finest song Yorke has written and kept for himself, but it stands out as one of the best he’s written period. The song itself, allegedly, dates back to a decade ago, when the name was dropped in an interview about his favorite Radiohead song. He laughed off the question, saying his favorite Radiohead song was whatever he had finished at the moment, then added he was trying to finish something called ‘Dawn Chorus,’ and that it is ‘really great.’ 

The name later popped up as the LLC the band used to release its 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool, and if one were so inclined, the imagination could run wild wondering what a full band arrangement of this might sound like, or what other forms this song took before it arrived here, now, in 2019. Through warm, vintage, eerie synthesizers, Yorke constructs a fascinating, vivid narrative that is both telling and surprisingly ambiguous in the same breath.  

There is a terrifyingly real sense of sadness, and regret, that runs throughout “Dawn Chorus,” which, coupled with the somber arrangement, make it the kind of song winds up being, and gives it the kind of emotional impact it has in the end. It’s the kind of song, that as it unfolds, is repeatedly responsible for frisson, over and over again. Yorke’s voice is, honestly, showing its age. It has been for a minute, but that’s okay—he has been belting it out with the band for well over 25 years now, and he knows its limitations and the range it still has. He mumbles, in typical Yorke fashion, a bulk of the song’s lyrics, barely above a whisper, allowing it to coast just across the top of the unrelenting synthesizer progression, finding him in a surprisingly human, very pensive, and very reflective place, returning recently to the idea of the opportunity to ‘do it all again,’

There is, however, no resolution in the end—the question of if somebody could do it all again goes unanswered, and the song ends, creating a perfect, bittersweet, haunting moment in time.

6- “Tokyo” and “Red Door” by Julien Baker

A seven-car pileup of every disastrous thing that I’ve been…

I bend the rules with these lists all the time, and it seemed like it was not that much of a stretch to pick the two A-side singles released by Julien Baker this year—one a Record Store Day ‘exclusive’ that was later made available digitally; the other a limited edition 7” only available to subscribers of the Sub Pop Records Singles Series (then also made digitally.)

Both “Red Door,” and “Tokyo” are enormous in their scope, and show massive and ambitious growth from Baker as a songwriter and an arranger. Long gone are the days of Baker’s startlingly fragile debut, Sprained Ankle, as she’s managed to not so much ‘find her voice’—the voice was always there, but now she uses it almost as a weapon—a cathartic device capable of devastating otherworldly release, and in these two songs, sees her expanding her soundscape to include much more instrumentation, including the use of percussion, something that she has more or less avoided until now.

It could have backfired, really. Baker succumbing to slicker production values and all kinds of flourishes could flat out just not have worked—but the thing is, is that they do work, and they work well, because she’s had the time for this to seem like natural growth, and not just an overnight change in sound.

The parallels between the two songs can be found in the way that Baker creates dramatic, and at times, explosive tension in both—“Tokyo” has more of that, especially in the song’s cacophonic conclusion, but it’s Baker’s command of beautifully poetic and emotionally raw phrasing that bonds these two tracks as among the strongest she’s written thus far. 

There are a number of recurring themes throughout Baker’s canon, including her struggles with a spiritual identity, sobriety, and images of violence—fists through walls and car accidents, to name a few, appear more than once in her previous material, and they show up in both “Red Door” and “Tokyo,” in one form or another. But there are other poignant, unnerving lyrics, too, that give these songs the power that they have—“You don’t understand,” Baker implores at the beginning of the second verse in “Red Door.” “I know last time I swore not to make a sense and now I’m wandering into traffic.” 

And in “Tokyo,” a song with, curiously, no discernible refrain or use or repetition in lyrics, it’s the horrific imagery she effortlessly uses in the song’s third stanza—“God, it’s a mess—a seven-car pileup of every disastrous thing I’ve been.”

5. “It’s Not Impossible” by Longwave

I’ll make it up to you before the end…

Considering how much of my review of Longwave’s ‘comeback’ album If We Ever Live Forever was spent on this one song, and trying my hardest to articulate just what I liked about it, and why I found it so affecting, I’m uncertain how much of that needs to be re-stated, or rewritten here, for the sake of a ‘year end’ blurb.

Returning after 10 years away, If We Ever Live Forever is a fine, enjoyable album, and a welcome return for a promising band from the early 2000s New York City rock boom—but it’s this song, the closing track on the record, that shows what, exactly, when pushed to do so, Longwave are capable of. They were always, throughout their career, able to create gorgeous, and emotionally driven music—you can hear it as far back as the swooning “Tidal Wave” from The Strangest Things, or the dramatic grander of “Underneath You Know The Names” and “Fall on Every Whim” from There’s A Fire. 

But they’ve never done anything quite like this before.

“It’s Not Impossible” is the kind of song where every element tumbles together so perfectly in the end that it borders on being emotionally manipulative. Opening with seemingly directionless guitar feedback and noodling, the song shuffles itself together with a graceful ease as all of the elements (including layers of guitar work, piano, and reversed drum fills, which kind of make the song?) come together gradually, building toward something much, much larger. 

Lyrically, the song is somewhat sparse, or at least is reliant on the repeated elements of the refrain—“It’s not impossible, no it’s not over yet,” words the band’s frontman Steve Schlitz sings with conviction that isn’t quite complete—it’s more of an urgent pleading that is pensive and bittersweet—especially when he delivers the line “I’ll make it up to you before the end”—a lyric that sounds less like an apology or an assurance than anything else. But 

It’s both elements—lyrics and music, that make “It’s Not Impossible” the kind of emotional rollercoaster that it winds up being, or, more than likely, was always meant to be—the kind of song that, once it actually lifts off with such precious little time left, literally knocks the wind out of you, and leaves you breathless in the end. 

4. “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift

I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you…

Just because something was dubbed ‘my summertime jam of 2019,’ and just because I went so very long on one specific song, writing, like 4,000 words on it, and a lot of other things too, doesn’t mean it’s my favorite song of the year. 

But it’s up there. As it should be.

Up until the moment that Twitter started telling me to listen to “Cruel Summer,” and up until the moment I was informed Annie Clark had some kind of loose connection to it and is credited as a co-writer, I had never considered myself a Taylor Swift fan, but her ascent from teenage country music stardom to pop music stardom has been fascinating to sit on the sidelines of and wonder just how she was able to transcend.

Lover, her seventh album, runs a little long, and there are moments when the material is not as successfully executed when compared to others; with that being said, there’s an impressive run of songs within the first half, including “I Think He Knows” and “Cordelia Street,” but it’s “Cruel Summer,” the album’s audacious second track, that is, simply putting it, unfuckwithable. 

Co-written by Clark, Swift, and pop impresario Jack Antonoff, who had an amazing year as producer and collaborator for pop music’s elite, “Cruel Summer” is, without a doubt, everything a ‘pop’ song should be. It’s short (barely three minutes) and vastest little, if any time; the music swirls and bubbles during the song’s verses, which are not negligible in these slightest, but carried through on the melody, they are, truthfully, the vessel to get you to both, the song’s anthemic, shout-a-long, absolutely enormous refrain, and, within the song’s final third, it’s incredible bridge section—something solely responsible for the expression—“And I scream, ‘For whatever it’s worth I love you—ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?’

Sometimes it’s all too easy to lose yourself, or find yourself, in a song—even a ‘pop’ song like this; and sometimes a song becomes something much more than itself. “Cruel Summer” was that for me, which is why it was my summertime jam of 2019 (arriving a little late, I know, I know) and that is why I was able to over-write a personal essay about one pop song, but have the essay be about so much more too. There’s an innocence, and a palpable sense of fun to music like this—something that a lot of what I usually listen to lacks completely. Even with it being infectious pop music, sung by a pop superstar, there is a lot going on this song, lyrically and thematically, specifically in the song’s refrain, and in the bridge section, because at it’s core, it becomes a little more desperate—that visceral, unhinged need to scream at someone about love, or what you think is love, and the confusion and realization (that maybe arrives a little too late) that there is overlap, yes, but a huge difference between ‘love’ and thinking you are ‘in love.’

Is that worst thing you’ve ever heard? Is that the worst thing I’ve ever heard? 

There’s really no easy answer.

3. “Love Song” by Lana Del Rey

Lying on your chest, in my party dress, I’m a fuckin’ mess, but I…..

Of the 14 tracks on Lana Del Rey’s jaw dropping fifth album Norman Fucking Rockwell, half of them—exactly half of them—could have wound up on this list. And if I were maybe a more ambitious writer, or if I maybe felt like I had more time, and was capable of really articulating myself in a way that wasn’t simply writing a truncated version of what I may or may not have already said in my review of NFR, I would, perhaps, make an argument for placing those seven songs in one slot on this list.

The other night I asked my friend what her favorite song on the album was—an album that, shortly after I found myself more or less obsessed with in mid-September, she too, found herself completely taken with. She told me the album’s opening, titular track was her favorite, and then asked why I wanted to know.

I told her that I was struggling to pin down just one song off of Norman Fucking Rockwell that I could call my ‘favorite’ and put on this list, and that I was second guessing the choice I had wanted to make. 

She told me to go with my gut instinct—so here we are. The song that more or less splits the album in half, “Love Song.”

“Love Song” is not the song that first grabbed my attention during my original listen to Norman Fucking Rockwell; no, that would have been, at least parts of it anyway, the aforementioned titular track—a song that includes lyrics that almost made me swerve the car I was driving right off of the highway. “Fuck It, I Love You,” also in that same initial listen, took me by utter surprise, simply because of the desperation and bluntness butted up against the ever shifting groove of the song.

No, it was after a number of listens through that I realized “Love Song” might just be the finest moment on the record—one that is tender in its arrangement, all while being haunting, seductive, and sad in its lyrics and imagery.

The song is, of course, about having sex in a car—but I mean, it’s about a lot of other things too, and that’s, perhaps, the most surprising thing about Norman Fucking Rockwell, and the album’s lyrics is that, somehow, you can feel incredibly seen. Like I never thought I’d see so many parts of myself in a song that includes the lyric, “So spill my clothes on the floor of your new car.”

Is “Love Song” a ‘love song’? Yes and no. I mean the sentiment is there, but there’s also a stark contrast in some of the lyrics that this, maybe, isn’t the best kind of love—in the first verse, there’s talk about one person making the other person proud; in the refrain, there’s a lyric about ‘passing a test,’ which is something that maybe shouldn’t be something people in a relationship feel that they have to worry about doing.

But it’s the honesty—tender, real—that makes “Love Song” work, and makes it what it is, especially in the second verse—“I believe that you see me for who I am,” Lana states, shortly before asking, “Is it safe to just be who we are.” It is in those naked (figuratively and literally, I suppose) moments of honesty and connection that sound incredibly comforting, that makes “Love Song” the kind of stirring, gorgeous ballad that lingers well after the song has ended.

2. “Uncomfortably Numb” by American Football

Comatose—like father, like son

A little over three years ago, I was slowly beginning to make my way out of a very serious depression that I found myself in—mostly thanks to the job that I had writing for the newspaper, and it was maybe two months after I had quit, and was easing my into my new job (the one I still have) when I heard the song “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” by American Football—a storied, mythologized ‘emo’ band from Illinois that broke up shortly after their first album. The group reunited, and, roughly 17 years after their debut, released their second full-length.

On paper, ‘emo music for adults’ sounds like an absolute train wreck, but I’m unable to think of any other way to easily or quickly describe American Football to people. Musically, their arrangements and layering are incredibly dense—bordering at times on math rock or post-rock, but lyrically, their songs are for people who were in their teens or early 20s during the late 1990s or early 2000s and were deeply in their feelings at that time—people who are, like me, now pushing 40, and are still, despite my best efforts, in my feelings.

Rarely had I felt as seen and attacked by a song as I did by “I’ve Been So Lost,” which featured lines like, “I feel so sick—doctor, it hurts when I exist,” and “My impaired intuition is telling me just to give in.”

When American Football’s third album was announced, I anticipated there would be a song that I would find myself identifying with maybe more than I should, but nothing could have prepared me for “Uncomfortably Numb,” the album’s startling third track, featuring guest vocals from Hayley Williams of the power pop outfit Paramore.

Set against a crisp, unwavering rhythm and a hypnotic usage of guitar harmonics, American Football’s frontman, Mike Kinsella, wastes absolutely no time in setting the tone for “Uncomfortably Numb”—“Sensitivity deprived/I can’t feel a thing inside. I blamed my father in my youth—now as a father, I blame the booze,” he sings in the song’s audacious first line; then, later in the second verse, “Sensitivity deprived/all my sympathy prescribed. I used to struggle in my youth—now I’m used to struggling for two.”

Throughout the song’s second verse, and into the refrain, Williams overlaps her voice with Kinsella, harmonizing on the song’s titular lyric, creating a gorgeous, harrowing give and take of tension that is never truly released. And it’s Williams who takes the song’s final verse, which includes possibly the starkest lyric in the song—“I’ve tried, but you’ve won; comatose—like father, like son.” 

Can the music of American Football be a little over dramatic at times—yes? But is that part of the draw, especially for somebody naturally depressive like myself—also yes? Three years ago, “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” came along at at time when I would go so far as to say that I needed it; “Uncomfortably Numb” is a song that didn’t come along when I needed it—but it is a song that holds an unflinching mirror up to your darkest part and doesn’t so much ask, but forces you to look—beautiful, heartbreaking, and in the end, very real, it’s like the things we are all trying to outrun but never really can.

1. “Hairpin Turns” by The National

I like the old way I thought I was hanging in there…

If you’re like me, then maybe you’ve found yourself, or have seen yourself, in a National song. 

Maybe you’ve seen depictions of what it’s like to be married and worry about turning your spouse into the kind of piece of shit you see yourself to be (“Conversation 16”); maybe you have seen a reflection of your own debilitating depression, romanticized in a way that you could never (“Pink Rabbits”); or maybe it’s a little of both—what it’s like to be married, anxious, depressed, and a piece of shit (“Nobody Else Will Be There” and “Guilty Party.”)

Relationships are difficult; married or not, committing to another person and standing by them, and being patient with them, is not easy. But even when they are emotionally falling apart, or the kind of person you have to apologize for the behavior of, the trick is to make it look effortless. 

Sleep Well Beast, The National’s glitchy, at times challenging 2017 effort was, among other things, a cycle of songs about how ‘marriage is hard,’ with the band’s frontman Matt Berninger working through his neurosis alongside his wife (and at times, lyricist for the band) Carin Besser; there are moments when the band’s new album, I Am Easy to Find, released less than two years later, continues to ruminate on that that concept—“Hairpin Turns” is one of those songs.

“Hairpin Turns,” arriving in the final third of the album, is what a ‘quintessential’ National song sounds like, now that the band has gracefully aged out of the tension from the early to mid 2000s, and found themselves making slow simmering, moody, and sad ‘indie’ music that, maybe a little too easily, is classified as ‘dad rock.’ 

Beginning with a skittering, dusty sounding drum machine, with dummer Bryan Devendorf’s expert command of the drum kit tumbling in over the top of it, the song alternates between warm and cool, slightly antiquated sounding synthesizer tones, big, dramatic piano chords, and swirling guitars—but, as with almost every National song, it’s in Berninger’s lyrics, and his vocals (more singing now, than the ‘speak singing’ he did early on.) If you listen to “Hairpin Turns” on headphones—even an inexpensive pair, you’ll hear that Berninger’s voice is multi-tracked to include him singing the song in both a higher register, as well as his trademark baritone. It’s not the first time the band has split the range of his voice like this in post-production, but it never ceases to be a fascinating, dizzying trick.

I liked the old way I thought I was hanging in there,” Berninger sings in the song’s attention commanding first line. “You held back the worst rain from my shoulders then.”

And we’ve all been there, if we regularly find ourselves in a National song. Or, at least, I’ve been there—the place where you don’t realize just how bad things have gotten, or the place where somebody else is trying to save you from yourself. But it’s the song’s refrain, sung in tandem with guest vocalist Gail Ann Dorsey—a husky, strong voice that adds a surprising robust extra layer to the song—that makes this song as dramatic and emotional as it is.

What are we going through—you and me? Every other house on the street is burning,” Dorsey and Berninger sing together. Then later, “What are we going through—you and me? What is it you want me to be learning? We’re always arguing about the same things: days of brutalism and hairpin turns.”

Berninger, as a writer, is much less ambiguous and fragmented in his imagery now, in comparison to the way he used his lyrics on, say the band’s breakthrough albums Boxer and Alligator; however, there as direct as the lyrics to “Hairpin Turns” are, there’s still an indirect, shadowy quality to them—he doesn’t play his entire hand, which is what makes it so compelling of a listen—his hyper-literate lyrics leave just enough to be slightly vague while still opening themselves up so you can, quite literally, see yourself in the song.

Musically, The National of 2019 is a night and day difference between The National, of, say 2004. They always had ambition, it just a little bit of time and more creative freedom to explore more bombastic, theatrical arrangements—and when “Hairpin Turns” builds and swoons, but never gets out of hand, the theatricality really works to underscore the drama and emotion within the lyrics.

The thing with “Hairpin Turns,” as is the thing with so many songs by The National, is that there is no clear resolve by song’s end. “Say it like I was right in the room there,” Berninger sings before the song’s conclusion—“Say it like your head was on my shoulder,” though it’s never clear what the ‘it’ is, and the song’s final line, “And I keep my eyes open,” isn’t even sung by him at all—but rather by Kate Stables and Pauline Delasser—but why we keep our eyes open isn’t revealed at all, either. 

Every other house on the street is burning and we’re always arguing about the same things; the facade of how I was ‘hanging in there’ is long gone, and the reason “Hairpin Turns” was the song that impacted me the most in 2019 is that not only is the kind of song that I saw myself in the first time I heard it, but continued to see myself in on every subsequent listen. 

There is no clear resolve in the end, but the trick, even though you might be an absolute mess, is to appear effortless and put together to everybody else—both in this song, and in life itself. 

1- “Still Space” is the song that I’ve listened to the most this year simply because I listen to it, on repeat, for 15 minutes, nearly every morning, when I walk to work.