Svalbard – “Listen To Someone”
The Bristol band Svalbard make a towering, beautiful, pummeling sound that doesn’t really fit into any particular genre. They pull from hardcore, from shoegaze, from post-rock, and from black metal, and they transform all of it into a majestic, cathartic blur. Next month, the band is coming back with a new album called When I Die, Will I Get Better?, the follow-up to 2018’s It’s Hard To Have Hope. We’ve already posted the early track “Open Wound.” Today, they’ve shared a new on called “Listen To Someone.”
Like a lot of other Svalbard songs, “Listen To Someone” merges beauty with heaviness in ways that just make sense. Svalbard don’t swing back and forth between quiet, heavy parts and loud, intense parts. Instead, they place all of those parts along the same continuum, and every song feels like an intuitive journey. Lyrically, “Listen To Someone” is about the weight of dealing with mental illness and the difficulty of getting people to listen to you properly: “Don’t tell me it’s OK to not be OK then wince at everything I say/ Don’t act like a confidant if you’re just going to get impatient and make patronizing suggestions.” Check out the song’s video below.
Talking to Revolver, Svalbard’s Serena Cherry says:
There’s a lot of well-meaning discussions about mental illness online, and whilst I appreciate that talking about mental illness helps reduce the stigma that depression is a weakness, I do take issue with this catchphrase: “Speak to someone.” It’s a common sentiment expressed in mental health discourse — people want to make it known that sufferers can speak to them if they’re feeling down, which is a clearly a kind and caring act. However, I would much rather the emphasis was placed on listening to someone. “If you want to talk about the most difficult, darkest aspects of your mental health, I will listen without judgement.” Something like that is an improvement. You can feel the shift in sentiment.
As someone who has struggled with depression, someone offering to listen to me is far more reassuring than someone instructing me to talk to them. When a person urges someone with depression to speak about it, it places the onus on the mentally ill to reach out, which is actually a really difficult thing for a depressed or anxious person to do. Also, if someone does choose to confide about the darkest depths of their depression to you, you need to be truly prepared to listen. This means: not getting impatient or frustrated with the person for being unable to be “cheered up,” not wincing at the topic of suicide, not alienating mentally ill people with dramatic reactions to their words. It’s all very well and good to encourage people to speak to someone, but people also need to be prepared to listen to the mentally ill without making judgement.
When I Die, Will I Get Better? is out 9/25 on Holy Roar.