Sebadoh's "Harmacy" - Quite possibly one of the greatest break up albums ever?


Mar 10 2007, 5h24

I love Sebadoh.

...And Since I'll be seeing Sebadoh's reunion tour in a couple weeks, I thought I'd write about their impact on my life...

I've been a fan of the album, "Harmacy" for a few years now. I was hooked by the poppier songs, and eventually after a few listens, fell in love with the album as a whole.

...But it wasn't until I broke up with my boyfriend that I realized that "Harmacy" may in fact be the greatest break up album of all time.

When the break up happened, it was smooth as far as break ups go, but I am a girl, and I do have stupid girlie emotions, so naturally, I was listening to a lot of Portishead and Mazzy Star. But of course, a person can only hear so much dense moping before you want to die, and so I went in search of something happier, something with some pep..

And while looking through my Mp3s, I came across "Ocean" and it was the perfect cure. For a week afterward, I probably listened to that song 50 times, and it always made me feel better. But something strange happened around the 30th listen.. I actually listened to the words.

The song was saying all of those things I ended up saying to my ex when we decided to stop seeing one another...

"So you think you're in the middle of the ocean
Stranded on an island of your own
Or stuck in the top of a mountain
Either way you're gonna say you're all alone
And I hesitate to say that you're a liar
I never tell the truth myself
But I tried to chase you down and I got tired
So I'm leaving you to you or someone else"

It was so strange, true, perfect... So I went out and bought the whole album.

When I came home, I put it in, and just laid on my bed, listening in a way I had never listened to an album in my whole life. Every word, every song, It fit the progression of a failing relationship amazingly.

It was as if Lou Barlow Started writing the album during the turbulent end of a relationship with someone he loved very, very much, and recorded every fight in a song.

The most important aspect o this album is that I feel like there are three types of songs on this album--

-Fight songs-
Thse are the songs such as "Prince-S", "Ocean", "Crystal Gypsy" (which is an amazing "fuck you, let's fuck" song!), "Mind Reader", "Open Ended" (A great song that describes those moments when you're so frustrated with your lover that you purposely fuck with them...), and "Love to Fight", which is a wonderful example of that turbulent, awful and violent drunken fight.. All of these songs are scenes out of every fight you've ever had. All those stupid things you say, all the annoyances.

-The Internal Monologue Songs-
These songs are the most prevalent on the album, and are: "On Fire", "Nothing Like You", "Beauty of the Ride", "Zone Doubt", "Too Pure", "Worst Thing", "Perfect Way", "Can't Give Up", and "I Smell a Rat". All of these seem to be about those questions you ask yourself in a relationship. Is it my fault? Is it your fault? Are things getting weird? Are we drifting apart? Is this going anywhere? Do you even love me anymore? Can I just drink until I don't give a shit anymore?

"I Smell a Rat" is not only the perfect capper to the album, but it's a song that essentially describes that final realization that it's over, and that retro-spective look back to figure out why the hell you stayed in the first place.

-Thinkin' Songs-
There are three instrumentals on the album, which for a rock band is rare. I feel however, that these songs are the perfect opportunity for the listener to think about things.. I know that when I heard the album for the first time, I was surprised by these songs, but I welcomed the break to sorta let my mind work, and with all the applicable lyrics i had just heard, I needed the few minutes to really contemplate what I had heard... These songs are "Sforzando!", "Hillbilly II", and "Weed Against Speed".
Then, theres the One song that kinda stands out on its own.. "Willing to Wait". I love this song immensely, but I don't think it fits into any of the other categories. This song is lovely, and applies to a lot of people who, after seing their ex with someone new, realizes they miss them. I went through this, he went throught this. Everyone has gone through this.

I listened to this album for a few weeks, and eventually, I was happier. A few of my friends have gone through rough break ups, and I burn them the CD. Their reaction to "Harmacy" is always the same, "Holy Shit. This album describes everything exactly!"

So next time a relationship ends for you, pop in Sebadoh's "Harmacy", and I promise, It'll understand you better than any of your friends.


  • iluvtheclean

    that was a terrific post. almost makes me entertain thoughts of breaking up! i think Lou gets a fair few of his ideas and inspirations from memories of his relationship with J. Mascis ... have you read the book Our Band Could Be Your Life? Has a chapter on Dinosaur Jr., the internal machinations and relationships and turmoil between Lou and J.

    Mar 10 2007, 21h33
  • SonicExplosion

    I'm glad I happened upon this....very thoughtful

    Mai 5 2009, 17h13
  • RounderII

    I can't stop playing "Mind Reader". I've been listening to this a lot more but you can't beat Bakesale....

    Set 13 2010, 2h08
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