The science of nostalgia: Why we’re returning to the albums we loved as teens

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From Loudersound.

There’s no denying it: right now, you’re probably feeling more stressed than ever. The fear and panic of living through a global pandemic combined with the loneliness of lockdown is causing a maelstrom of emotions. At the same time, your inability to access your usual ways of blowing off steam (going out, drinking, exercising) is likely to be increasing the pressure.

For a lot of us, that has meant an increased reliance on things that are familiar to bring us comfort. If you’ve found yourself retreating to the nostalgic safety of the records that lulled you throughout your adolescence rather than seeking out new music, you likely aren’t alone.

Publicly, many of us are reminiscing about the music we grew up with. A recent tweet, with a photo of a CD Walkman sticking out of a denim jacket pocket read: “First band u think of when u see this?” Clearly aimed at an audience who will actually know what a Walkman is when they see it, the answers are fairly predictable: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Glassjaw, Avril Lavigne, At The Drive-InLinkin Park. Largely shared by alternative millennials nearing (or in) their 30s, the response and answers say less than the desire to share in that nostalgia.


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A not dissimilar tweet that elicited near-identical responses asked people to share five artists they listened to in high school that they still listen to today, and the response to both points to the same conclusion: that we are all thinking about, and leaning on, the albums that first made us music fans.

It’s not surprising – even in more typical times, our interests are often tethered to our relative pasts, whatever that means for you. Our tastes were cemented in adolescence, when our emotions were at their most raw and our personalities their most malleable.

No matter your efforts to listen to new music, and no matter how much you may connect with it, in all likelihood it’s those early albums that still strike the most meaningful chord.

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