5 songs for the quarter life crisis

Craig Angus

Did you wake up today and think ‘holy fuck, where did the last few years go?’  Well I did, and yesterday, and the day before.

Not to worry though; the quarter-life crisis is as common as it’s sister crisis – the famous (or should that be infamous?) mid-life crisis. Young folks all over the world are encountering dead ends: whether it’s the consequences of a lingering economic hangover, a deserted job front, or whether paralysis has taken hold, given you a big shake, and made you suddenly conscience that you’re not sixteen anymore, playing Tony Hawk’s on the playstation and worrying about sweet fuck all. This is crazy of course, and as R. Kelly once said “Age ain’t nothin but a number”, although I can’t be sure he meant that to be used in this context.  Do you want to feel young, and excited about the future?  Quit whining, get out of bed, and embrace life and the people who make it such a cool wee journey. While you’re at it, here are 5 songs to put a smile on your face, help you come to terms with change, and go have some fun.

Japandroids – Younger Us

Vancouver’s Japandroids sophomore record is titled ‘Celebration Rock’, and you won’t find a more aptly-titled collection of songs this year.  This is music to crank up at an impromptu house party, after 7 cans of Red Stripe beer, surrounded by your best friends, having the time of your life.  ‘Younger Us’ is a rip-roaring scorcher of a guitar rock anthem, and the sentimental nature of the subject matter of the song (in short, remember how great it was when we were young?) is offset by a cacophony of distortion and a relentless pounding of drums that only serves to suggest that while on paper we’re not getting younger – we can still stay up late, get hammered, and talk about our dreams.  Dead on.

‘Remember saying things like “we’ll sleep when we’re dead”/ and thinking this feeling was never gonna end’

The The – This Is The Day

‘All the money in the world/Couldn’t buy back those days’ croons Matt Johnson, on a song that – remarkably – peaked at no. 71 in the UK chart.  Over an orchestra of synthesisers, peppered with accordions and punctuated by some excellent handclapping; The The delivered their finest moment, and one of the musical watermarks of the 1980s, probably a good 5 years ahead of its time.  Change is a scary thing, people will leave you, you might find yourself in foreign lands, but tomorrow is a new day and you never know what’s waiting there.  If you’re sad about letting go of the past, then put this tune on, and wait for the chorus – a simple but life affirming blast of optimism.

‘This is the day/Your life will surely change/This is the day/When things fall into place

Over the Wall – Settle Down

Quite simply one of the best bands in Scotland, Over the Wall’s strength is that their songs are full of personality – and ‘Settle Down’ is no exception, a real anthem, a song that a twenty-something staring at a dead end can really relate to.  Gav Prentice from the band commented:  ‘It’s shite working in an office or call centre, and while that may be tedious to keep pointing that out, it’s fucking tedious to have to do it’*.  Rather than taking this tediousness and moaning about it, ‘Settle Down’ is a defiant, fists in the air, wave of optimistic pop – ‘I don’t want to work for some shitty company/And I don’t want to get a job with my degree in the industry’ –  it’s a timely reminder that what’s important in life isn’t careers, or social status – but the love of friends, family, and partners, stuff money can’t buy.

*Interview credits to Peenko

‘I don’t know if I’ll have enough to settle down eventually/but I would like it if I could spend my days with you’

Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road

Ah, The Boss – perpetually musing his way over mis-spent youth, and angling for an escape. If you’re sick of seeing the same buildings every day, sick of ‘the man’ bringing you down, and you want your dreams of escapism to come true, then crack on this classic from ‘Born to Run’.  Springsteen’s brand of rock is pure theatre, conceptual tracks that make you feel part of a great spectacle, and in this song the spotlight shines on the protagonist:  ‘So you’re scared and you’re thinking/That maybe we ain’t that young anymore/Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night/You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright’. Dreaming ain’t a young mans game, it’s not for the beautiful people, its for the underdog.  Show a little faith, folks.

‘Its a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win’

Lostprophets – Last Summer

Say ‘Lostprophets’ to someone, and you wouldn’t blame them if all they could think of was grown men in make up, singing contrived cliches about ‘standing on the rooftops man singing your heart out man’.  Back in 2004 though, they released a single called ‘Last Summer’, and I still get chills listening to it.  It’s hugely sentimental but, dare I say it, strangely poetic in a non-too-subtle way: ‘We traced the sun across the sky, and we laughed till we cried/Always so hard to say goodbye’.  There’s no point in even disguising how soppy this song is, a homage to days gone by – and it reminds me of killing time with friends that I don’t actually keep in touch with anymore.  Those days were the best, but they’ve long since been relegated to memories.  It doesn’t even matter if you don’t like this song, the ‘I would stop time to stay with you’, refrain isn’t everybody’s chai latte, and if you look up the music video, you’ll recoil in horror as you see what these Welshmen have done to their hair.  Just consider number 5 in your list as a song that fills you with nostalgia, and know that in ten years time you’ll have even more memories, and another stupid song as the soundtrack to them.


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