I don’t want to seem curmudgeonly, so I’ll begin by telling you something I love. It might seem a little obvious really, on a music site, but I’m basically obsessed with… the album. I love the narrative journey, the deep space you can enter with your favorite musician, the intricate details to pore over.
Are we all agreed so far?
If you’re seriously wondering, given that you clearly agree with me completely, how loving albums is worth a moan, I can put it bluntly: Albums are under attack.
Absolutely nothing pisses me off more than this fact. Almost the entire music world is constantly trying to destroy the album. They use devious and underhand tactics to make the album an afterthought. They have built a whole parallel industry to make the album seem pointless. And a lot of you buy right into it.
Let’s say you’re going to play an album on Spotify. First you have to fight through a hundred playlists of a thousand songs you didn’t ask to hear. Each one is lovingly built to drive you away from your own preference, into who knows what the fuck they fancy shoving into your ears.
Over the first hurdle, then just press play, yes? But what they give you is a fucking big green shuffle button, centre screen, especially designed to ruin the album the artist wanted to you hear. Press that, and it will flush that carefully built album narrative down the toilet, and play whatever the fuck it thinks is best for you. Don’t want Kendrick Lamar to lead you through his ideas? Bored by the silly idea that Bob Dylan know what works as a set of songs? Great – press shuffle, and let a dumb computer make its mind up for you.
I’m not just a pedant about this though. Think a bit further into this conspiracy – the whole “single” idea works against listening to albums from start to finish. Fucking compilations too. And all those crappy albums that sound like a load of singles by the same rubbish artist, slammed together. Bastards, the lot of them!
The final insult is radio. Some cheery git, switching incessantly between songs, and in the process ripping albums to pieces for his or her own sick pleasure. It’s disgraceful.
And you people can’t seem to wake up to the twisted reality you’re supporting, every time you turn on hipster 6 Music (or perhaps you’re more a tedious Radio 1 fan). You are all well out of order.
I, on the other hand, am some kind of music seer, just trying to persuade you to stop breaking art into digestible tit-bits, and go listen to the six disc reissue of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness from the first note to the last* (and no toilet breaks either, weakling).
I love the way an album can bring a whole narrative of ideas from each track into one cohesive thing. It seems like the rest of you lot just want to hear 2.5 minutes of music that you can jump around to. Shame on you!
*I’ve never actually heard this album, but I’m sure it’s just lovely.
Words by Nick Parker.