A whole lot of us are quite nostalgic for the “old days” of Top 40 radio, LPs, 45s, bands that were bigger than life (like Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin). Concentrating on the album as a document of a band’s evolution and a distinct part of the entire music experience, I’d like to say a few sentences.
Over this past decade (and longer), the album experience has become, more or less, a diminishing part of music. This doesn’t mean that music itself has lessened. It just means that most people these days seem to prefer the song over the collection. And still, that’s not really the bad thing. What seems to be problematic is the fast rate that albums seem to disappear. The songs that are preferred get pulled off the released album, and inserted into weighty playlists, becoming first number one on the list, then being replaced and falling to number 245. It seems a waste of a great song or a series of songs.
Taking a slight detour, I’m afraid that most readers may have ignored the Discoveries post I put up concerning First Aid Kit, the sister duo from Sweden with music that sews together folk and country together into a gorgeous production of great songs. I swung back to their second full-length after well over a year since I was informed of its release. BIG mistake on my part. This album has been on full replay for weeks, giving me little room for anything else (how can I get ANY work done when I’m as obsessed as I am with a single album).
As I listen, each song becomes more and more polished. Each song becomes more and more an important part of the full album. Each song is inseparable from the album that showcases it. It also indicates to me that the full album experience these days is NOT Dead on Arrival. I rather enjoy becoming obsessed with the full content of an album. And, for the record, First Aid Kit’s last album, The Lion’s Roar is a five star gem not to be dismissed. It’s rich, smart, full of well-crafted harmonies and memorable melodies, and haunting songs that will not go away easily. Every song!
Tying back into my original thoughts being written, I’m heartened that a complete album of songs can be collectively enjoyed as much as I enjoy The Lion’s Roar. And there are others. At a time when I have begun to think that the album experience might be nearing its end (and after hearing as much from other people), I have begun to back pedal in my assessment.
No, the great and complete album isn’t dying. But I’m afraid the passion for listening to an entire album is dying. There’s a ton of great complete albums out there.
What’s to do about that?