The Answers (1998)

First albums make first impressions. The Answers, Blue October’s first album, is raw. If this album were a hand, the knuckles on the hand would have scrapped and raw skin. This debut album is an example of what it means to be young and living with mental illness. Weaving in narratives about family, lacking the ability to give yourself advice, and tales of depression, The Answers is a boxing glove that packs a punch.

Justin Furstenfeld, the lead singer of Blue October, carries the album. He writes all the music for the band. In this first album, his poetry gives clear examples of living with depression. He pens honest lyrics about losing a girlfriend and the dark spiral that happens afterwards, being “an automatic steeple for depressed and lonely people” but struggles to “give myself advice.” voice and poetry carries the album. He pens honest lyrics about losing a first love, trying (and failing) to give himself advice, and tells stories about his family.

What drew me to Blue October was the honesty of their lyrics. As a teenager, I started really fighting my own battles with severe depression and anxiety. I’d never heard someone talk so openly about depression, or wanting to kill themselves before. The narrative song “Hate Me” from Blue October’s fourth studio album drew me in, for it was a powerful story about Justin’s internal battle with his dark thoughts. I’d heard sad songs before, but I’d never heard anything like this. I went home that day from school and downloaded “Hate Me” as well as a few other Blue songs.

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The Answers is the beginning to the narratives of depression, lost love, and Justin’s relationships with his family. Not every song makes perfect sense, but each song carries a narrative format. A few good examples of this include songs like “The Answer”, “Black Orchid”, and “The 21st.” Coincidentally, each song focuses on depression in some way or form. Depression is the underlying problem, something that either influences Justin, or how Justin reacts to the things that happen in his life–like the breakup with a girlfriend.

“The Answer”

The early days of Blue October’s music is mostly dark, ending on a sad note. Looking back, I recognize the symptoms of depression that change Justin’s outlook, which turns everything into a gloom.

Depression, at least for me, turns everything inside out. It makes it hard for me to think positively, or focus on the future. It’s hard to see where the future will go, especially when I’m dwelling on some small thing.

Like I’ve mentioned before, the fact that Justin has depression is one of the reasons I felt so drawn towards Blue October. It made me feel, back in my teen-aged years, like I wasn’t alone in my moments of darkness and despair.

This particular album is dark, yes, but it’s also full of moments of hope. The song “For My Brother” talks about Justin’s reason for writing and singing songs. One of the lines in the song stands out to me: “And I sing, I sing/for my brother who keeps me sane.” This particular line reminds me that they are people who support and need me in their life, no matter how dark my world seems to get around me.

“For My Brother”

Blue October’s very first album is raw, but in it’s rawness, it’s also perfect. It’s a solid first album, one that mentions the power of family members amid the darkness that your mind creates. The main themes of the album includes talking about mental illness, family, and prominent moments in your life, like going through a sudden breakup.

Blue October has made a huge impact on my life, whether I’m feeling happy or sad. These days, I’m so much happier. I’m in a much better place in my life. Coincidentally, Blue October’s music reflects my current mood. The band has gone on an important journey in finding love and happiness. Justin is doing so much better, and his music reflects those emotions. The band’s new music focuses on overcoming your inner demons, and facing your problems with positivity in mind.

I love how this band is easy to relate to, especially when it comes to mental health. I feel like Blue October was ahead of the curve, talking about depression and personal issues before everyone else realized that it’s much more beneficial to address your mental health rather than keeping it bunched up inside of you.

If you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, this band is for you. If you’re feeling amazing and want to listen to some positive jams, Blue October is perfect for you. Try out their music, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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