Too often, we call the conflict between a person and a disease a “battle.” Perhaps it’s easier that way, to neatly frame something that ails someone as a hurdle they must overcome, rather than a cruel twist of fate, an unavoidable yet grave nuisance, or being dealt a shitty hand in genetics. But there’s something so beautifully matter-of-fact about Julien Baker’s “Appointments” video, which depicts the singer-songwriter going about her everyday life while being subtly trailed by a group of dancers, who flit past her in an empty apartment, or traipse through a gas station as she fills up her tank. They’re never fully interacting with her, they’re just omnipresent, like the world’s most nonchalant silent dance troupe.
Living with mental illness can be a series of quotidian struggles – just trying “not to miss any more appointments,” as Baker sings – that require optimism even when optimism feels impossible. If only our personal demons all danced so expressively in grey muscle tanks.
Baker’s heartbreaking sophomore album Turn Out The Lights comes out on Matador October 27; catch her on tour this fall.