Great Pessimistic Albums

What are everyone’s favorite pessimistic albums?

Not just sad or angry or kind of negative, or ones with a few songs fitting the description. I’m thinking of albums that build to or have an overarching theme of condemning humanity or the world or the idea of a reasonable future.

The four albums that made me think of starting this thread are among my all-time favorites:

Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica

The Flaming Lips - The Terror

Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent

Built to Spill - Perfect from Now On


Hail to the Thief had to be up there.

“Walk into the jaws of Hell.”

…and we did.


Oh yeah, that album is pure misery. The musical equivalent of having a fever in an unbearably hot, shitty apartment.

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Came here to post Moon and Antarctica


Came here to post all of the albums in the description. I enjoy pessimistic albums apparently.

I feel like Bradford Cox has done one, but Monomania is probably a bit too angry and Logos is maybe a bit too dreamy.

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A good one from this year that doesn’t immediately present itself that way is Lost in the Country by Trace Mountains. The whole album basically builds to the line:

The crucible of history, which is always burning brightly
Which is heaped in the Goddamn country, stooped by the sea
And we are all on our own, there is no kindness
There is only violence and smartphones

I should probably give Deerhunter a proper shot finally. For some reason they almost always wash over me, but I remember really liking parts of Monomania at least (Leather Jacket II, Pensacola, and the title track off the top of my head).

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Don’t know if I might be missing the point here, but Closer and The Holy Bible?


I think those fit, and I should probably give them a shot again. I’m not as familiar with those albums as most people are here - I remember liking parts of them when I tried them a few years ago, but ended up forgetting mostly everything.

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Oh yeah, The Downward Spiral of course

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A little bit looser and more stream of consciousness than the ones I posted up top, but Tropical Fuck Storm’s A Laughing Death in Meatspace pretty much gets there.

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This album is quite bleak, sometimes going overboard but more often giving quite perfect vignettes of being devastated by heartbreak

Pure Comedy by FJM also meets the bill of being almost completely nihilistic, which occasionally gets really dull when paired with his smug intellectualism, but at points it really comes together. ‘When the God of Love Returns’ is quite a perfectly pessimistic song

As ever there’s always ‘Pink Moon’, particularly the track Parasite which is, for me, a very uncomfortable listen.


Post Harvest Neil was very bleak and pessimistic


Time Fades Away just has that 1000 yard stare too

I believe it’s on Spotify now also, but well worth illegally acquiring if not (though I’m sure most ppl have heard it by now)


2 of my favourites…

The Icarus Line - ‘All Things Under Heaven’

Rowland S Howard ‘Teenage Snuff Film’


Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska


Why is Relatives in Descent pessimistic? It’s dark and brooding and sometimes despairing, maybe, but is that pessimistic?
A lot of the choices so far seem more realistic than pessimistic to me

First thing I thought of was all the early Magnetic Fields albums. Anything before 69 Love Songs is just pure pessimism. Even the lyrically optimistic songs sound hopeless. Holiday and Get Lost are the two strongest albums, but the song 100,000 Fireflies has the lyric “You won’t be happy with me, but give me one more chance. You won’t be happy anyway” which I absolutely love


Oh I agree - realistic and pessimistic tend to basically be interchangeable for me. Maybe appropriately cynical might be a better description than pessimistic.