BY EMMA WESTCOTT//
I don’t have a drain stopper for my bathtub. I don’t really know why, because I have a perfectly functional shower and tub otherwise, but there’s no way to stop the water from slipping away. My solution was to put socks in a sandwich bag, get all the air out of it, and shove the ball of vacuum sealed plastic and clothing into the hole at the bottom of the tub. And it worked. Follow that up with two bath bombs and a speaker, and I was set.
Before the moment of genius, though, which was only had due to the smarts of my dad, I was one small gust of wind away from being pushed off a cliff with how stressed out I was. I had way too much work to finish in not enough time, I was trying map out every class I would take for the rest of my college career, and I kept having to cancel plans with people because more and more things were showing up that I needed to finish. So, I literally ignored all of it and decided to get in the bathtub. Now, we queue me calling my dad, frantically, because I don’t have a drain stopper. Once he solved that for me though, I had a pretty nice evening.
Bath time is relaxing but not sad; it’s me-time (you-time?). I started with “Kill Somebody” by YUNGBLUD. Dom does what he always does, tells a story or steals someone’s tortured inner monologue and tweaks it so that you can lay back and relax while listening. With this song in particular, it’s a break from his usual, obvious punk sound for something a little more subtle. Next, we have “More Than Life” by Whitley. This song is a further sigh, an exhale, after YUNGBLUD let you relax your muscles. It never goes past a calm, fingerpicked guitar, which allows you to believe, if only fleetingly, that you can stay in the bath forever with this soundtrack. Sleepy baths are a great feeling, but it isn’t quite what we’re going for here (even though it is 11:37 pm) so we follow up with Kings of Leon. “Beautiful War” reignites just enough of what’s inside you to get you slouching a little less and listening a little more. The Bolero-drum-style bass line keeps you steady.
Now, lay back again, awake but comfortable, with your steadied heartbeat, as “Open Season” by High Highs comes on next. The track will automatically turn your thoughts into some sort of montage; your stresses and anxieties will become a home movie in your brain so that they’re a little easier to handle. Now that we’ve edited and directed what’s stressing you out, and cleared it out for the time being, we can make way for a quick daydream (maladaptive or otherwise). Regardless of its reputation, “My Kind of Woman” by Mac DeMarco is our backing track. I’ll give you my daydream if you can’t think of one: smokey concert venue, blue lights, swaying with an entire crowd of people to this song (can you tell I’m a little concert deprived?)
Now, Novo Amor, who I’ve featured before in my column, takes over from DeMarco. “Anchor” is perfectly calm as it stills the infinitesimal ripples in the tub and the larger ripples in the pond of your thoughts. It’s not quite sad, but it’s flat and a bit cool-tinged. Rex Orange County’s “It’s Not The Same Anymore” brings us something that, to me, requires active listening. He just has this quality about him, whether it’s his lyricism or musicality, that makes you hit snooze on the multitude of alarms going off in your head to fully take in what he’s saying. The next track lets you loosen a little from your position of attention. Gatlin’s “I Think About You All The Time” allows you to lay your back against the tile wall, no matter how uncomfortable, and shut your eyes for a second. The water around you still swirls.
David Bowie comes in next, magically stilling the bluish water that smells of ginger and fruit. He has this way of cutting through the air, whether thick with sweet scents or thin due to strained breathing. “Life on Mars?”, an underrated track from his Hunky Dory album, flicks on a lighter just to sway it back and forth. The warmth from that small flame wiggles into your chest cavity and flickers down into your extremities, if only for those four minutes.
It wouldn’t any sort of self-reflection session of mine if Phoebe Bridgers didn’t make an appearance. At this point, the water is a little cold if you dip your hands in, but your legs are still warm. “Chinese Satellite” makes up for the temperature difference, cancelling out the open window next to the tub. Her half-spoken verses and string melodies keep your eyes shut, but let you know that it’ll be time to get out of the tub soon. It’s like a quick storytelling session, a book set to music, before you have to rejoin the outside world to finish all that’s been put upon you. It’s a great story, though, and now you smell lush.
- Kill Somebody by YUNGBLUD
- More Than Life by Whitley
- Beautiful War by Kings of Leon
- Open Season by High Highs
- My Kind of Woman by Mac DeMarco
- Anchor by Novo Amor
- It’s Not The Same Anymore by Rex Orange County
- I Think About You All The Time by Gatlin
- Life on Mars? By David Bowie
- Chinese Satellite by Phoebe Bridgers