PACKS’ Guide to Crushing (and Being Crushed)

Madeline Link shares her soundtrack for a broken heart.

As that dog. once said, “By definition, a crush must hurt.” And it does! Just ask PACKS — the Toronto-based alt-rock quartet whose diaristic debut, Take the Cake, is out today via Fire Talk and Royal Mountain Records. To celebrate, leader Madeline Link is sharing her soundtrack for heartbreak of all kinds. Set yourself free from “the suffocating tar of despair” that is crushing, and take a listen. 
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music 

Black Lips — “You’re Dumb”
Enough said! When I get crushed by a crush, all I really want to say is, “You’re dumb.” The guitar riffs are like loose slinkies toppling down stained carpet stairs, reckless and stubbornly spiralling downward.

Blonde Redhead — “(I Am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off”
The female vox are frustrated and repetitive. The male vox are unimpressed and sarcastic. The guitars are dissonant and confused. The tension culminates to a point of silence and then begins again. It totally does still gets rocks off, as they say!

Liz Phair — “Nashville”
The song begins with what sounds like tiny wind chimes in a breeze. With the slow reverberating drums and the mundane words morphing into each other, it’s a cheerful dirge that makes me want to rot in domestic bliss, but also reject absolutely everything that it entails.

Dead Soft — “I Believe You”
Every single lyric of this song is effortlessly strung together, sung with a feeling that pierces through every crusty clot of angst in my chest. When the guitars pipe in, they do exactly as the vocals do, but in their own special Autolux-type way. 

Beck — “Girl Dreams”
A defeatist ditty. It’s anthemic in my books! This phase of Beck is iconic.

Eddie Duncan — “Peach Tree Blues”
This is the fuck-it song where you hit your lowest point. Your soul is full of waiting screams that sometimes come out as laughter. You start thinking maybe you can live a celibate life, just like Spongebob does at the bottom of the sea.

Lisandro Meza — “Lejanía”
The accordion riff in this song is the exact melodic chain of eternal human sadness. When the voices of women come in harmonizing during the chorus, you can feel the crushing feeling of being very far from home.

Shocking Blue — “Long And Lonesome Road”
The lead singer’s voice is so powerful, and the Dutch accent just makes the lyrics that much more cutting. There’s a long and lonesome road ahead, but you can still be a badass about it.

Mia Joy — “See Us”
For all of the hope that lives in this song, I still get a sinking feeling. A premonition that despite being able to idealize and imagine your best life with that person, it may never, ever transpire. Your life will always turn out completely different than you could ever imagine.

Mereba — “Black Truck”
When you crush a crush or when a crush crushes you, there is a small modicum of freedom that glints through the suffocating tar of despair. I once read a quote from Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk in a tarot book: “Nothing is more whole than a broken heart.” If that doesn’t set you free, then nothing will!

(Photo Credit: left, Calm Elliot-Armstrong)