A Valentine’s Day mixtape

No more mushy love songs. Here are five tracks that won’t make your crush blush.




While cheesy love songs have their place—high school dances, first dances at weddings, weeknight karaoke—for the most part, they’re a little too cloying to listen to without feeling sugar shocked. Here are five songs that aren’t saccharine but are just sweet enough to be put on a mixtape.


Alex Turner, “Stuck on the Puzzle”

“I’m not the kind of fool/Who’s gonna sit and sing to you/About stars, girl,” Turner sings on this track from the Arctic Monkeys frontman’s solo effort. Like every Arctic Monkeys song, this one takes time to parse. It’s a cryptic waltz that never explicitly says “I love you;” Turner pines for a woman he can’t quite figure out.


Pavement, “Gold Soundz”

As a general rule, every mixtape should have one Pavement song on it. On this track, off “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain,” Stephen Malkmus reminisces about an old love. ”I keep my address to yourself, ‘cause we need secrets,” he sings, remembering all the little things they shared. Just like Malkmus says, “you can never quarantine the past.” Old flames will always be with you.


Jeff Rosenstock, “I Did Something Weird Last Night”

After kissing a girl at a party, Rosenstock wonders if he’ll see her again. “Did I creep you out like a scary movie?” he wonders, as he lays in bed one afternoon skipping class. Rosenstock is at his angsty-best here, feeling half-guilty and half-lovestruck. “Will you kiss me hard like some shit in a terrible movie?” he asks. Underneath the 21st-century agony that defines “WORRY.,” Rosenstock is really just as hopelessly romantic as the rest of us.


Chris Farren, “Flowers”

Here, Rosenstock’s Antarctigo Vespucci bandmate Farren has no illusions of grandeur about love. “Love isn’t Heaven/Love isn’t Hell/But you’ll still get stuck there with somebody else,” he sings. Finding a partner won’t make your life perfect, but “when it’s inside you, your feet leave the ground.”


The Front Bottoms, “Twelve Feet Deep”

In this song, originally on 2008’s “I Hate My Friends” and later, in 2014, on “Rose,” vocalist Brian Sella sings about a love he’s drowning in: “‘Cause you are water 12 feet deep and I am boots made of concrete.” He’s left for college, but he doesn’t want to say goodbye. “Maybe college won’t work out, I can come live at your house,” Sella sings. Use this for your out-of-town love with whom you stay up till 3 a.m. talking on the phone.