Why does “Achilles Come Down” by Gang of Youths slap so hard?

Album cover for the “Achilles come down” song.

There’s been one song on my mind recently, perhaps because I play it on repeat whilst taking walks around my suburban fall dreamscape of a neighborhood, perhaps because I have multiple diagnosed mental illnesses. Regardless, this is the song that plays when I’m falling asleep, and when I’m not paying attention in my zoom classes. “Achilles Come Down” by Gang of Youths. So I’ve decided to analyze it in 5 subjective categories.

What mood do you need to be in to listen to this song?
Personally I like to be in the sort of mood that is both isolating and connecting. I’m talking about that good social burn out of course. Touch-starved, yet at the same time repulsed by someone touching you. The sort of loneliness that isn’t just cured by cuddling with your friends on a cold and rainy November evening. The type of childhood nostalgia that brings about a longing for the times when you weren’t questioning your gender, and your relationship with your father was somehow not broken yet.

What would come of driving around late at night listening to this song on repeat?
I may or may not be speaking from personal experience, but hypothetically speaking, this song would make you feel like maybe there’s something good about living on this earth. The soft vocals and orchestral background make one feel as if they are being comforted by the universe herself. In addition, the French sections feel like a pep talk from every mysterious stranger working the counter at the gas station when you’re buying a white lighter. This exact cocktail of emotions may or may not end up in one crying in a gas station bathroom.

How might this affect you if you listened to it in the opposite mood that has been recommended?
I had to take one for the team in this category. After feeling proud of myself for doing my chemistry homework, and receiving the serotonin that the Canvas submission page confetti never fails to give me, I put this song on. Not a good choice. Instantly made me think existentially about our purpose on this earth. According to my brother my “mental state declined like a train going off the rails on Mt.Everest.” Would not recommend it.

What happens when you do something creative while listening to this song on repeat?
I feel as if it is important to note in this category that the creative activity done was woodworking, due to my lack of artistic ability, and the fact that this song seems to fit the anti-panic attack vibes that woodworking brings me. This song made my simple spoon making feel like I was a schoolchild in pioneer America making a gift for my secret gay lover. This sort of mindset influenced my piece immensely. I spent more time on it that I would usually, and I was genuinely pleased with the results.

What are some notable lyrics?
The overall theme of this song feels like a letter to a friend who desperately needs to see a therapist. On this theme some lyrics stand out. “Hurt and grieve but don’t suffer alone // Engage with the pain as a motive” and “And see life as a worthy opponent” are good advice. There is something to be gained from listening closely to all 7 minutes and 2 seconds of this musical dopamine rush.

So why does “Achilles Come Down” slap? Is it due to it fitting the mood that so many of us are stuck in, what with the days that feel the same, lack of connection, and general nihilism that these times have brought about? Or is it due to the many scenarios that one can imagine when listening to it? Quite possibly both. Overall however, this song seems to be good because of it’s ability to fade into the background. This property is how it seems to fit almost any slightly sad mood. It creates the perfect backdrop for your breakups, your fantasies about becoming a pioneer, your longings for simpler times.