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(Credit: Far Out / Meriç Dağlı)

Music

10 best albums to welcome spring

When putting together a seasonal soundtrack, the tendency to gravitate towards the more atmospheric end of one’s taste spectrum is natural. As is the same for most people, I think of the weather first when considering a season; sun in the summer, wind and rotten leaves in the autumn, snow in the winter and rain (with sunny spells) in the spring. These sweeping generalisations are, of course, a little crude, and we all know how the British climate can quite literally rain on our parade, giving us a snowless Christmas period, snow and hail in the spring and showers in our well-earned summer breaks. 

When putting together these ten awe-inspiring albums for spring listening, the romantic image of spring has been front and centre, with images of daffodils, healthy-looking rain-soaked lawns gleaming in the sun and maybe an easter egg hunt. Those expecting an Easter-themed jaunt will be underwhelmed as the only song that comes to mind is ‘East at Easter’ by Simple Minds, and that doesn’t really embody the feeling of spring enough for me to permit the whole album, Sparkle In The Rain, onto my list. 

The albums were mostly selected based on a feeling of spring while allowing a few direct references in a handful of the songs. The feeling of any music to soundtrack a season has to be something atmospheric and thought-provoking. But for spring, in particular, the music should be candidly optimistic while not overstepping the mark; we must remember that it’s not summer yet, the rainclouds still loom heavy overhead, and so we must welcome strands of melancholy. So if you’re looking for all-out ecstasy from a seasonal playlist, you’ll have to wait for summer.

So as we welcome a new season and emerge from the cocoon of winter for those early morning jogs in the sun or those walks through the park without a sweater, we bring you our pick of ten fantastically beautiful albums to soundtrack your spring. 

10 best albums to welcome Spring

Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake 

Some will argue that Five Leaves Left is more of an autumnal album with a name like that, but it’s the perfect album for both spring and autumn. After all, ‘Cello Song boasts the beautiful lyrics: “For the dreams that came to you when so young / Told of a life / Where spring is sprung”.

Dake’s first record brandishes some of his finest compositions, including ‘Saturday Sun’ and ‘River Man’. It holds a perfect range of emotional dynamite for a peaceful sunny Sunday afternoon in spring. So listen to this masterful debut album by the late great Nick Drake this spiring as you sail towards summer “on the crest of a wave”.

Laughing Stock – Talk Talk

By the late 1980s, Talk Talk frontman and creative lead Mark Hollis had firmly removed the group from their association with the ’80s synth-pop movement. The release of Spirit of Eden in 1988 showed a marked step into something that transcended current subgenres and could only really be described as post-rock. This was a style they would take to yet another level in the next album.

Soon after this release, the group began working on what would be their fifth and final album, Laughing Stock. Talk Talk, as Hollis once recalled, were extremely meticulous in the studio, hence the three-year wait for the album’s release in 1991. The meticulous creation of the album shines through in the delicate and atmospheric soundscape that it holds. In Hollis’ words, the album is the sort of music you “need to sit down and listen [to]”. Put that volume up and drift away into spring.

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison

In 1968, Van Morrison released his second solo album, Astral Weeks. The music within takes a welcomed departure from his previous pop hits such as ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Spanish Rose’. Astral Weeks show a newfound maturity to Morrison’s lyrics, and the music that accompanies is a more refined and progressive take on the folk tradition.

Astral Weeks has a strange uplifting feeling that is akin to this time of year. The album has a lot to offer, but personal highlights are in the title track and ‘Sweet Thing’, with its lyrics: “And I will walk and talk / In gardens all wet with rain,” a particularly spring-like image in my mind.

Souvlaki – Slowdive

In 1994, Reading group Slowdive made their mark on the musical map with their second album and prevailing masterpiece Souvlaki. The album is awash with the atmospheric beauty that only the pedal-happy guitarists of the shoegaze subgenre can gift us with. 

While the album as a whole gives a beautiful soundtrack for this time of year with classics like ‘Alison’ and ‘Dagger’, it’s, of course, the dazzling ‘When the Sun Hits’ that will truly welcome us into the warmth of spring.

Another Green World – Brian Eno

As we finally shed the vitamin D deficient skins of the winter months and begin to bask in the stronger sun of spring, so too do all the plants. In spring, we can expect a fair deal of rainfall and a lot of sunlight. All the while, you’ll see your world turn a little greener. 

That’s about as close as one can get to linking Brian Eno’s masterpiece 1975 solo album, Another Green World, to spring. But, for me, the association doesn’t stop there. The uplifting experimental instrumentals throughout perfectly capture that spring feeling. There’s a particular spring-like quality to ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ (if you ignore the mention of “August” in the refrain).

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – Big Thief

Ohio Indie-folk group Big Thief bring a nostalgic and sentimental feeling to much of their music that makes it a delight to listen to at any time of the year. But their latest album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, seems perfect for a spring listen. The music covers a range of moods while maintaining a dominant atmosphere of optimism.

As Far Out wrote in our stellar review for the album earlier this year, it’s “a record that allows for creativity to grow and procreate among the liner notes while also staying true to the soil it was first planted in. There aren’t many albums that have the opportunity to please everyone all of the time. But there aren’t many bands like Big Thief around.”

Face To Face – The Kinks 

The Kinks’ fourth studio album, Face To Face, was released during the height of the British invasion in 1966. As the colourful psychedelic album artwork suggests, the music within is a bright reflection of the bright and breezy hippie era. One might call this more of a summer album with its number one single, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, but the album isn’t all fun and games – there are dark and doubtful themes streaming throughout. After all, ‘Sunday Afternoon’ is Dave Davies’ stark commentary on the contemporary state of British politics under the leadership of Harold Wilson. 

One fine morning this spring, you might just find yourself feeling rather dandy and skip down to the garden to pick some dandelions, and if you do, you might like ‘Dandy’ as your soundtrack.

A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

Radiohead released one of the greatest albums of the 2010s in their 2017 release, A Moon Shaped Pool. The ambient art-rock soundscapes throughout give the album the feel of an epic film soundtrack of sorts. Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne described the album as ‘cinematic’ during his speech to induct Radiohead into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

The bold and sentimental music makes for an enjoyable listen that never tires upon a repeat with its diverse balance of emotions and tempos. A Moon Shaped Pool most certainly deserves its place in your spring soundtrack and has a strange way of complimenting any mood you might find yourself in.

Today – Galaxie 500 

Massachusetts dream-pop group Galaxie 500 introduced their distinctive style of slow neo-psychedelic rock music with their debut album, Today, in 1988. The distorted dreamy haze of the album evokes distant memories in a sentimentally chilled out atmosphere. 

A highlight can, of course, be found in ‘Tugboat’, the album’s only single, but the album as a whole is a beauty to behold and then some. And I hear you ask whether it has any more direct links to spring. Well, the first track on the album is called ‘Flowers’. Do flowers appear in spring? You’re darn tootin’ they do! 

The Campfire Headphase – Boards of Canada

Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada made the perfect instrumental album for spring in 2004 with The Campfire Headphase. On a sunny day in April or May, you might find yourself out in the garden or indeed sat around a campfire. If you’re looking for something atmospheric yet punchy and uplifting to play while you relax outside, then look no further. 

The experimental blend of ambient, trip-hop and folktronica evokes an almost visual journey for the listener. As one half of the duo, Mike Sandison, once described the making of the album: “We usually imagine our music to have a visual element while we’re writing it, so we were picturing this character losing his mind at the campfire and compressing weeks of events into a few hours, in that time-stretching way that acid fucks with your perception.”

Below, we’ve got them all in a perfect springtime playlist.