Welcome to The Soundtrack, a new column where we plumb the depths of our musical knowledge to bring you the best* (subjective) album to listen to for very specific life situations. First up, Tom Misch‘s Beat Tape 2.
I don’t think I’m the only person who’s ever woken up with a throbbing hangover and realised: Oh shit, I have things to do today. Family things. Maybe it’s your nan’s birthday. Maybe it’s your sister’s graduation. Or maybe it was this Sunday just gone, you cracked a few too many tinnies armed with an ill-advised “she’ll be right” attitude, and woke up feeling like the true definition of seedy with T-minus 2 hours to go before Father’s Day lunch at your parent’s place. This is a very specific situation that calls for a very specific kind of music to assist you. It’s not like needing something to get you going for work, or motivate you through assignment. You’re feeling fragile and sorry for yourself. You need a gentle push, not a screeching shove. You want to stay soft and pliable, but be able to keep yourself from collapsing into mum’s potato salad at the table. That’s where Tom Misch comes in.
Beat Tape 2 is gentle but still titillating enough to get you moving, like a soft, well-placed kiss on the cheek. It’s comforting but funky, enveloping the listener in a pleasant reverie and then drawing them out in a satisfied daze.
Opening track The Journey is purely instrumental. This is perfect for a hungover person because everything might feel like screaming to them. Understated strings, lightly warping synths, and a very damn smooth guitar indeed all seem to wordlessly just get how cactus you’re feeling. Listen to this one while you’re still in bed – just make sure you don’t fall back asleep.
Now it’s time to put your feet on the floor, but don’t move too fast or you’ll give yourself headspins. Wander With Me has got your back. With Carmody‘s delicate, unaffected vocals spouting sentiments like “Baby it’s alright with me”, this song feels comfortingly sympathetic, one step up from the previous track’s acknowledgement of your plight. Wander With Me knows you knew by 10pm last night you’d gotten yourself in WAY too deep, but you kept going. It doesn’t care, it loves you anyway. Isn’t that nice?
Let’s turn the tempo up a little with Nightgowns. Make yourself a coffee and let yourself give in to the inevitable hip-swaying a bit. Don’t be afraid, this song is still sparse, still just as sheltering – but this is where we start prepping for a day of Being A Functional Human instead of just wallowing. Dunno about you, but I’ll enlist Loyle Carner and his undemanding rap flow any day to ease me out of my blanket fort.
Okay, we’re feeling kinda better, we’re sipping away at a scalding coffee (with sugar because you deserve it today) and munching a bit of butter and Vegemite-laden toast. You’re ready for some unabashedly positive vibes, courtesy of what sounds like clavinet, the chirpiest of all keyboards. Hear that twang? Everything’s gonna be okay! The sun is shining and you actually don’t hate it. Plus, this song is called Falafel, which is great. But also might make you realise how hungry you are. Surely your family will feed you! Hey, maybe it won’t be that bad after all.
If you weren’t already convinced that this album is THE perfect thing to chuck on in this particular sitch, the next song is literally called Wake Up This Day, so there. It also features Brisbane-born Jordan Rakei and his pipes of liquid gold. There’s something about the way his voice and the guitar- and synth-work all play off each other that feels like a ebbing, flowing river. Speaking of which, that coffee went straight through you, didn’t it?
Since you’re in the bathroom already now, grab a towel and get yourself under a nice warm shower. In The Midst Of It All is twinkling, lush, and just a little sexy – perfect fodder for gettin’ clean. Come Back is just the sprightly kind of vibe you need to push you along as you pick family-appropriate clothes, make your damn bed for once, and throw out the half-eaten Maccas on your floor. Yeah! Responsibility!
But hold up – what’s this? Your Love feels a whole hell of a lot like a (very subdued) club track. Kinda like something you’d hear at your trendy local’s Sunday sesh. Hey, wait a minute. It is Sunday. And it’s the afternoon (or close to it). And you have ingredients for Bloody Marys. Perhaps a carefully measured, spicy hair of the dog will perk you up a tad? (PSA: don’t do this if you have to drive and you’re not on your opens).
Yepppppp. That feels better, right? Just sit back and gather your thoughts – don’t get up to leave just yet, you still have time. Hark‘s crisp hi-hats are simplistic enough to not distract you while you nut out some more interesting responses to the inevitable “what have you been up to?” brigade than just “ah, you know, not much”.
Alright, time to get your butt into gear. The Bearcubs-featuring Colours of Freedom is the most energetic and diverse track yet, with lots of tasty little sonic moments. Start your car (or get a train, or whatever). Life is happening and hey, this isn’t that difficult, is it?
Beautiful Escape was designed to keep your private little audio-induced high pumping. Zak Abel is singing lyrics so euphoric you’re basically guaranteed to forget your plight. Do you like super bright, skittering guitars? How fortuitous!
Just as you roll up to your parent’s place, you grab your phone to check out what this infectious, almost anthemic final track is called. It somehow walks this very thin line between shimmering exuberance and restraint. You knock on the front door as you open Spotify (or whatever you use) and grin wryly to yourself. It’s called Home.