MMM Top Ten: 10 Albums with Some Serious Halloween Vibes
With the spooky season now upon us, it’s time to start curating a soundtrack for the next few days of pumpkin carving, dressing up, and going out. Below are 10 perfect albums to put on to get you in the Halloween mood.
#10. Demi Lovato – Holy Fvck
On their eighth album, Demi Lovato abandons the mainstream pop sound that made them a star and unleashes hell as they embrace pop punk and hard rock. The album cover depicts them posing in bondage on a crucifix-shaped mattress in a dimly lit, red-carpeted room. The best songs – like Royal & The Serpent-featuring “Eat Me” or “29” – sound as gritty as sandpaper and see Lovato facing down trauma and reclaiming their image.
#9. Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
With their fourth album, Halsey teamed up with Nine Inch Nails to create a grunge rock experience about the “horrors of pregnancy and childbirth.” The album cover depicts them as a ruthless, steely-eyed royal or noblewoman a la Elizabeth Bathory. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power was accompanied by a one-hour-long R-rated film, with a promotional poster that resembled something out of The Conjuring.
#8. Lana Del Rey – Paradise
2012’s Born To Die turned Lana Del Rey into an adored star but ignited skepticism from music critics, which was only worsened by a now-infamous SNL performance. Accompanying the album months after its release was the 8-track Paradise – a far darker set of tracks that solidified Del Rey’s musicianship. The blasphemous “Gods & Monsters” offers an intoxicating combination of nihilism, femme fatale narratives, desire, and Godlessness. In a signature, Del Rey line, the pop star declares, “I was an angel looking to get f*cked hard.”
#7. Cat Power – Moon Pix
There’s something quite unsettling about Cat Power’s 1998 set of sedate ballads – whether it be when she sings of being locked up “in a sad, sad zoo” on “Metal Heart” or tells of going to “red places” and trying “to stay out of hell” on “Colors and The Kids” – or when she sings of the plight of orphans whose parents were lost to blood diamond mining on “Cross Bones Styles,” as she cries to their killers, “Haters! I have your diamonds.” The most Halloween-y song here is, obviously, “Back Of Your Head,” a no punches pulled ode to a “big monster lover” that turns out to be a profound meditation on our attraction to that which is dangerous and mysterious.
#6. Hole – Live Through This
The iconic cover of Hole’s Live Through This finds model Leilani Bishop in the role of prom queen – Tiara clad, clutching a bouquet of flowers with mascara beginning to run down her face. The cover bears a striking resemblance to a famous scene from the 1976 horror film Carrie. The music itself covers depression, desire, sexual assault, and trauma arising from motherhood. Released mere days after the suicide of Kurt Cobain, it will forever be remembered as a crystallization of grief. On the devastating highlight “Doll Parts,” Love finds herself merely reduced to, well, her various body parts. “Someday you will ache like I ache” she cries in increasingly wrenching repetitions.
#5. Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
Ethel Cain’s exhausting, wondrous debut album is the first installment of a planned trilogy focusing on death, religious trauma, and cults. An unsettling, Southern Gothic album cover is rendered fitting by 13 expansive songs that trace the journey of the character Ethel Cain as she runs away from home and finds false comfort in the arms of a man who proves to be her demise. The highlight here is “Ptolemaea,” which sees whispered cries of “make it stop” slowly build into a spine-chilling scream.
#4. Sloppy Jane – Madison
Sloppy Jane’s sophomore album was recorded entirely in a West Virginian cave – fulfilling a life-long dream of lead singer, songwriter, and co-producer Haley Dahl. The songs of Madison are as dark and haunting as the setting in which they were recorded; with “Jesus and Your Living Room” finding our narrator singing from beyond the grave, while “Judy’s Bedroom” turns a gruesome murder into a grim singalong.
#3. Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
The fourth, and best album of Kristin Hayter, AKA Lingua Ignota, is a triumph of harsh noise. Concerned with religious damnation and the fiery anger of God displayed in the Old Testament, Sinner Get Ready is filled with violent, fearful imagery. On the track “I Who Bend The Tall Grasses” (stylized in all caps) she instructs God, “I don’t give a f*ck // Just kill him // You have to // I’m not asking.” In the nine-minute epic “The Order of Spiritual Virgins,” she repeatedly interrupts moments of silence with harsh cacophonies of noise. Even once you know what to expect, the experience remains terrifying.
#2. Marissa Nadler – The Path of Clouds
Folk singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler’s 2021 album The Path of Clouds is consumed by tales of true crime. The fantastic opener “Bessie, Did You Make It?” finds Nadler wondering whether a supposed accidental tragedy involved foul play, while “Couldn’t Have Done The Killing” finds our narrator denying a crime they are the prime suspect for. Who’s telling the truth is left intentionally unclear.
#1. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
On the cover of her star-making sophomore album Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers stands alone in the desert at night, clad in a skeleton costume, looking up at the sky – consumed by the great expanse of her surroundings. The music contained within demonstrates an acute awareness of the horrors of this world and our smallness within it. The aptly titled “Halloween,” alone, justifies the album’s placement on this list, but so does the murder-fantasy “Garden Song” as well as the gigantic, apocalyptic closer “I Know The End.”