Adrianne Lenker’s “Ruined” is a solitary song about a kind of romantic downfall, but it’s also about the effects of obsessive rumination. Sung in a high, plaintive voice, accompanied by just piano and something identified in the credits as “crystal,” the song is a kind of ambient mantra, with softly pulsing chords subsumed in a luminous fog of uncertain provenance. She teases the outline of a story in a few vivid details—a gifted amethyst, a basement fern bending to the light—but for the most part the song is all chorus, a nagging thought re-run many times: “Can’t get enough of you/You come around and I’m ruined/You come around and I’m ruined.”
Every time Lenker repeats the word—putting the stress on its second syllable (“ru-inned”)—it’s as though she’s running up against a wall, cornered, unable to find a way out. “Ruined” implies a before and an after; for Lenker, desire means the impossibility of turning back. Yet her wistful voice and plodding chords sound less desperate than resigned, as though acknowledging that to float, however briefly, on the waves that wreck us is its own bittersweet pleasure.