Published May 21, 2020Best Ex deliver an EP of anthems for the greyer times of this season. Described by project mastermind Mariel Loveland as the "greatest hits of some of the worst stuff that's ever happened to me," Good at Feeling Bad is serves as a standout breakup companion.
The album stirs up emotions by resurfacing collectively experienced memories as well as by invoking far-out metaphorical scenarios. "Gap Tooth (On My Mind)" paints a familiar picture for anyone who used music as an escape. Picture yourself gazing outside a car window, the sweltering bass and bittersweet gang vocals letting you soak in the heartbreak of a bad day. In a more adventurous sense, "Feed the Sharks" finds instrumentation creeping around Loveland's vocals like its namesake sharks, until the chorus bursts through the tension, like breaking through the water, gasping desperately for air.
Perhaps because it's sandwiched against such animated songs, lead single "Bad Love" suffers a forgettable listen — once embedded into the tracklist of Best Ex's other distinctive songs, it struggles to stand out, falling flat on its repetitive and safe instrumentals.
Good at Feeling Bad not only tackles the mess of a romantic relationship, but expands into the friendships that intertwine and pose as potential screw ups, filled with tracks that could easily join the ranks of P!nk's explosive "So What!" and Sam Smith's sombre In the Lonely Hour ballads in the pantheon of best breakup songs. This podium placement isn't a stretch either: consider "Lemon"'s nostalgic pop-rock angst and heartwrenching falsetto hook, or the piano-ballad "Two of Us," with passing minor chords that feel like a sigh of resignation in a desperately, broken relationship.
Good at Feeling Bad exemplifies what pop does so well. It latches the listener's emotions onto catchy melodies, granting them respite from the world that won't stop for anyone's heartache. "Gap Tooth (On My Mind)" started the album out with the regret that "fault lines always move, but I built my life around you." "Good at Feeling Bad" ends the album confidently morose, declaring that "by now my darkness has a pedigree, I'm getting good at having something wrong with me." Beneath the ironic lyrics, what's left unsaid is stirring in the music: a hopeful chord progression, being OK with things not being OK, and a box to dump your feelings into. (No Sleep)