We are at an odd point in Lent, for some Undergraduates it is the celebration of their Halfway Hall, for others the prospect of Week 5 is lurking around the corner; and to top it off — it’s Valentine’s Day. Every year the celebration seems to be a little more overzealous than the last. To ease this burden, Varsity’s music team have chosen their tracks to help navigate this tricky week.

Dylan Sudworth — “Cellophane” — FKA Twigs

This song is soul-crushingly devastating. A reflection on a breakup with Robert Pattinson of all people (a fairly understandable source of heartbreak), this track may even lead you to feel better about the fallout from a Lent term situationship. All earthly woes pale in comparison to the withering despair Twigs delivers through this track.

“This track may even lead you to feel better about the fallout from a Lent situationship”

Stripped back instrumentals focus attention on the astonishing vocal performance she delivers; both technically impressive as Twigs switches between the highs and lows of a vast vocal range with ease, and emotionally cutting, her voice becoming increasingly broken and faltering as the track progresses and the pain of breaking up with Robert Pattinson becomes overwhelming. She reflects on the grief of loss, the struggles of a relationship in the public eye, self-worth and image as her relationship, herself, and her eventual breakup is poured over and judged by millions online.

Georgie Atkinson — “Forbidden Feelingz” — Nia Archives 

Valentine’s Day signals the time where relationships, situationships, people you message on the walk back from Revs are thrown into the spotlight. Nia Archive’s “Forbidden Feelingz”, is a soundtrack to the struggle that is romance in 2023. Whilst the lyrics are arguably repetitive, “Can’t face my feelings/ Need inner healing”, speaks to anyone going through a confusing time. The track layered with breakbeats and drones echoes the confusion when you may try to work out what feelings you may have repressed. A heady mix of syncopation and drum ‘n’ bass on this track will also help you drown out the giddy laughter of any couple walking down Silver Street. Recently nominated for the Rising Star award at this year’s BRIT Awards, the artist clearly is on her way to soundtracking a generation with her own brand of Jungle inspired music.

Georgie Atkinson — "Welcome To My Island" — Charli XCX, Caroline Polacheck, George Daniel

Full disclosure, I do worship at the altar of Charli XCX. It is therefore unsurprising that her track remixing Caroline Polachek’s “Welcome to My Island” has been a track that has been permanently on repeat. Listening the Charli whilst deciding which brand of hummus to buy in Mainsbury’s makes the experience ever more glamorous and empowering.

The tongue in cheek lyrics (which are a mainstay of the artist’s work) are perfectly scattered and deployed throughout this track. The title “Welcome to My Island” may immediately suggest a reaction piece to Brexit, however this track is one of female empowerment. Charli enables those who listen to her and this track that they ultimately have the power in choosing the fate of their relationships.

Matthew Hipkin — "This Charming Man" — The Smiths 

A “punctured bicycle” — the Cantabrigian’s bane. Few procedures demoralise me more than the crookbacked one-wheel shuffle home to Homerton. But for Morrissey, ever the contrarian, the puncture prefigures an unexpected hillside romance; the flat tyre becomes the Valentine’s rose to his eponymous charming man.


Mountain View

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While ‘Hand in Glove’ spoke to the misery of the glassy-eyed Englishman, ‘This Charming Man’ effused a mainstream danceability perfectly at home on Top of the Pops. Morrissey patched together a portrait of courtly eroticism, Marr and Rourke electrified it. As one critic remarked, “Early Elvis would have approved of the music, (Morrissey is a) Wilde of the words”.

Niamh Gregg — "songs" — Adrianne Lenker 

‘I love him, God help me’ — on my Close Friends’ story. Where to turn? To my faith? To throw myself into my work? Not my style. This called for Adrianne Lenker’s album songs.

Heartbreak requires a sort of sonic Savlon if it is to be survived. In her solo project, Lenker has a fantastical ability to pair veiled descriptions of terrific pain with sweet vocals and stripped-back instrumentals (Phil Weinrobe’s engineering producing an undoubtedly smoother sound, without erasing all fret scratches). ‘Tell me ‘bout your nature / Maybe I’ve been getting you wrong’ — what could be better for mourning someone very much still alive?

Weeping (physically or internally) to songs that evoke quiet anguish and clammy wallowing might be the perfect form of self-pity in which to indulge, if your only date this Valentine’s Day is solitude.