“The Bench” by Jeni Schapire: Haunting Ambient Pop About Trauma


“The Bench” is a sensual and hauntingly ethereal track – the kind you’d listen to when you’re lost in thought and memories, evading a restful night’s sleep. Schapire paints a vivid picture of a moment that repeatedly confronts her mind’s eye. Certain memories follow you long after they’re born, sometimes leading you to imagine an alternative sequence of events. When these images float around in your dreams, or falsely materialize in your peripheral vision, the past’s shadow becomes intertwined with the present. This track perfectly captures that feeling. 

Schapire’s voice sweetly exudes melancholy and sorrow, and I love the dreamy ambience provided by the instrumentals. Echoed reverb and sustained notes create a hazy atmosphere, which suits the song’s theme of becoming entangled in a surreal memory. As Schapire lets us into her world, fading into your own feels inevitable. “The Bench” moves the listener to slip into a reflective state to muse on future visions, memories, and everything in between.

But I close my eyes, I see that bench

So much wiser to just forget

I close my eyes, I see that dress

Wish I could get back what I left

The lyrics are specific enough for the listener to envision the sounds and sights associated with one fateful evening, without knowing for certain what happened. Schapire expresses her desire to put this moment behind her, as she recounts emotions and striking imagery tied to a particular time and place. A sense of freedom entwined with foreboding, a dimly lit curbside, and vacant streets. It’s almost ironic, as she notes the wisdom of forgetting in between outlining the visions that frequently haunt her. This is what makes songwriting so special, as songs can capsulize the moments that feel essential for us to express, whether they’re tinged with hope or regret. Remembering and describing all that you wish to forget can ultimately heal – and in the process, you get to create something so vividly beautiful. I love how this song, beyond its lovely ethereal ambience, feels like a personal search for resolution. For me, the song resonates as an effort to release a deep sense of longing, and hoping to find your old self through that process. 

I am never full

I’m always thoughtless

I sleep all day

I make no choices

She describes the paralysis that comes with moving on from a painful memory, which often leads us to dance between extremes. I love the parallels here – always / never – as it captures the sense of moving through life in a haze, feeling entirely consumed or wholly empty.    

Schapire depicts her disillusioned state of living in a few simple words, and I admire the blunt, vulnerable quality of her writing. It touches and moves you, while leaving enough space to color in the blanks from your own experiences.

Schapire’s ambient world is floaty, celestial, and captivating – but not devoid of anguish or meaning. I love the dual essence of this song, as it shows that pain can become transmuted and reveal itself as beautiful.


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