Depression is not a private accident that happens to individuals; it is the prevailing feeling under capitalism. The experience of depression can feel like the most isolating thing, but everything from subway advertisements promoting philosophy to commuters to the popularity of @sosadtoday and the communal desperation of sadtwitter to Ann Cvektovich’s writing and the rise of affect theory suggest that depression is the norm under mediated, surveilled, late capitalism.
The Great Cybernetic Depression is sort of a concept album, set ten years into the future but produced like a synth album from thirty years ago. Princess Chelsea creates this glossy sci-fi world partly in homage to synth futurists such as Kraftwerk and Eurythmics who influenced her as a kid, and partially because it’s easier to talk about your feelings when you project them onto another landscape.
“I made this album feeling pretty cynical and somewhat depressed about the world and finding the music industry pretty scary,” Chelsea said in an interview with Under the Radar. “Instead of calling the album “I’m depressed 2.0′ (maybe that’s a better title) and singing directly about this I decided to fabricate The Great Cybernetic Depression—a metaphorical world event (the social depression of the 2020’s?) set roughly 10 years in the future. It is a metaphor for my literal depression and makes it more interesting to sing about as I can sing a song about a crappy relationship or how I hate everything while seamlessly weaving in-and-out of a narrative about the end of the world.”
The apocalypses on individual songs are largely personal—claustrophobia, hopelessness, the dissolution of relationships—titled with a communal “we” (“We Are Very Happy”, “We Were Meant 2 B”, “We Are Strangers”, “We Are So Lost”), soundtracked by dramatic compositions, delivered with a faint weariness. On “We Are Strangers”, bandmate Jonathan Bree sings “I would kill technology just to know you well.” The other day, @sosadtoday creator Melissa Broder posted an unrelated but cosmically correlated tweet: “sorry, i can only be vulnerable w the whole internet.” That’s the way digitally mediated intimacy goes, and The Great Cybernetic Depression reports it from the front.
The Great Cybernetic Depression is out now on Flying Nun / Lil’ Chief. Stream it in full below: