So Much Richer

I loved This Beautiful Mess by Sixpence None the Richer in high school. I loved it in college. And it was the first record that my now-wife and I bonded over when we started dating in 2008. This batch of tunes balances delicately between the noise rock you’ll find in other parts of this list and the sweet jangle-pop of the eventual world-conquering “Kiss Me.” The album helped me connect with non-Christians who thought Christian pop and alt-rock were sappy pap (and they were right). The band’s aesthetic also introduced me to both 10,000 Maniacs and wonkier alt-rock.

But most importantly, the words of Leigh Nash (nee Bingham) welcomed doubt, fear, pain, mistrust, and angst into my fundamentalist Christian world. All those sensations weren’t allowed in the church I attended, even though I felt them en masse. Thankfully, Leigh’s lyrics (merged with the glittering guitar work of Matt & Tess, J.J’s resplendent bass, and Dale’s powerful drums) gave me space to be a frustrated teenager and to explore the dark corners of my faith. I played this album over and over again as I drove my clattering Chevy S-10 around my hometown — desperate for someone to understand me. And I’m so glad that Sixpence did.