Lyrics from AJR’s New Album That Speak to My Soul

You know that ethereal feeling of listening to a song that perfectly explains a feeling that you haven’t been able to put into words? That’s how I feel every time I listen to an AJR song. Indie pop band AJR released their fourth studio album a couple of weeks ago, and spoiler alert: the album, titled “OK Orchestra,” is a masterpiece from start to finish. I have loved this band for years for their funky, quirky sound and for their incredibly relatable lyrics about mental health, growing up and family relations (the three band members are brothers). 

The most recent album release could not have come at a better time for me. I graduate from college in one month, and in a time of so much change and uncertainty, I am more able to relate to AJR’s music than ever before. So, here are the lyrics from “OK Orchestra” that affirm my emotions and remind me that I am not alone in my feelings. 

  1. 1. The song: “World’s Smallest Violin”   The lyrics: “Next to them, my s*** don’t feel so grand, But I can’t help myself from feeling bad, I kind of feel like two things can be sad”

    I don’t know about you, but as someone who lives with mental illness, I have definitely had my problems minimized, both by myself and others around me. A common response to someone talking about their hardships is, “It could be worse.” Um, duh! I have never implied that my anxiety is the worst thing to ever happen to a human being. I completely understand that I am blessed and privileged, but I am also sometimes an anxious mess, and it still sucks. Or, as AJR says, “I kind of feel like two things can be sad.” 

  2. 2. The song: “Way Less Sad”   The lyrics: “Living sucks, but it’s sucking just a little now” and “I ain’t happy yet, but I’m way less sad” 

    The band actually wrote this song about how they felt about the beginning of 2021. Things were looking up pandemic-wise. Vaccine rollout was on the horizon, and the dumpster fire of 2020 was over. Life wasn’t great, but it was better. However, I instantly related this song to my mental health journey. Healing is a continuum; it’s nearly impossible to go from depressed straight to genuine happiness. So as someone heals from a mental illness, they may not be instantly happy, but with any luck, they’ll be “way less sad.”

  3. 3. The song: “Humpty Dumpty”    The lyrics: “Something’s wrong, but don’t pity me for long. If you get sad, then I’ll feel bad that I told you at all.”

    This is a huge one for me. When my mental health is especially low, I feel incredibly burdensome to those around me. If I break down to my roommates, my brain will reprimand me for ruining their night. If I need my mom to talk me through a panic attack, I beat myself up for making her worry about me. When I am finally able to step away from the immediate situation, I usually realize that those thoughts were not based in reality; but at the moment, those intrusive thoughts of weighing too heavily on the people I love most consume me. 

  4. 4. The song: “3 O’Clock Things”    The lyrics: “Would you go running if you saw the real me? Maybe you’d love him, yeah maybe you’d feel me. But I’ll never ask you, no that’s super scary” 

    Quick sidebar: if you’ve never heard this song, go listen. The last line is amazing and deserves to be heard. Anyway, as someone with both physical and mental illness, I have become a pro at pretending I’m fine. I’m pretty much an open book about everything. The only thing I hold back on is how I’m really feeling. If I’m feeling sick or anxious and you don’t know me well, you’d never be able to tell. Of course, this is not the healthiest coping mechanism, but it can be terrifying to show vulnerability. Luckily, mental health is slowly becoming a societal priority, but the “ugly” parts of mental illness are still seen as taboo. If someone feels comfortable enough to confide in you about their mental health, be kind because “that’s super scary.” 

These four examples don’t even begin to encompass all of the emotions elicited by this album. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Adam, Jack and Ryan, if for some crazy reason you’re reading this (a girl can dream), thank you so much for making me feel seen, heard and validated. Thank you for using your platform to normalize being human. I cannot think of an album that has made me feel as many feelings as “OK Orchestra” does. I will forever be impacted by your artistry, creativity and humanity, so thank you.