There’ve been studies done on why sad music resonates better with listeners than happy music does. Some say it helps us cope, or provides an outlet to experience sad emotions without having actual reasons, or that they make us happier because they’re not our experiences. It’s easier to feel a connection to sad songs that speak to us because when we’re upset, we seek out something to understand what we feel.
That may help explain why Blue October has been a go-to band for sad and depressing music for nearly two decades. The honesty displayed in their lyrics, fronted by lead singer and songwriter Justin Furstenfeld, has been key to their craft over the years.
Therefore, it’s hard to fault him for being happy on their newest record Home. The album that straight out says “I’ll smile if I want to/I’m not afraid, gonna flaunt it too,” – and they do. On Driver, he sings about the simplicity of going for a drive without a care in the world.
It’s admirable – to go from the dark days of addiction, suicidal thoughts and complete emptiness to present-day songs about the normalcy of living a regular happy life and settling down. The down side, of course, is that happy songs tend to not be as ‘edgy’ or ‘interesting’, and that is the case with this record.
Home serves as a continuation of their last album, 2013’s Sway, about the novelty of finally finding happiness and celebrating love whereas this one is about establishing those new beginnings and looking onward.
But Justin doesn’t forget his past. On Break Ground, he still questions his self-worth by thinking out loud “if I could be good enough/then I would be blown away.” Where Home, the first single, best describes the sentiment of the album, Time Changes Everything can be an overview of their trajectory over the years as it contrasts the past with the present, starting out industrial before gradually changing into a soaring wandering piano and guitar finish.
Home is a good album, not because it pushes any boundaries or provides deep insight or new realizations, but because it’s an album of honest music by a band who always wrote honestly about their demons, but unlike those recordings, they no longer have to and they shine brighter than ever because of it.
1. Coal Makes Diamonds
3. Heart Go Bang
4. I Want It
6. We Know Where You Go
7. The Lucky One
8. Break Ground
9. Leave It In The Dress Room (Shake It Up)
10. Houston Heights
11. Time Changes Everything
12. The Still
13. Heart Go Bang [The Egg Night Mix]
14. Home [Tim Palmer Mix]