By Christian Villarreal
When a band or artist has a lot of songs across multiple albums, I get disheartened. I enjoy discovering a new artist that has a good supply of music that can offer a diverse palette of tone, but it seldom works out that way.
More specifically, I have grown to hate albums. Saying this seems strange, but the more music I listen to, the more I realize the greatest songs come from musicians who produce work through an Extended Play (EP) or a collection of singles. This was not an easy realization for me, but when I looked at the profiles of my favorite bands and artists, I realized that my favorite songs had started as singles that were then added to an album.
One of my favorite bands is Black Pistol Fire. They released their Look Alive album earlier this year. At first, I was disappointed. Most of the songs on Look Alive, or at least the ones I had enjoyed the most, were singles the band had released weeks, if not months, before. I felt almost cheated, I had been expecting an album of new material that was going to last me a lifetime, and the surprise of new music had been almost ruined. My love for the band did not waiver, but I was not satisfied with Look Alive.
I had a similar experience when listening to Hidden Gems by The Blue Stones. The band’s second album included many singles that had been released a few months prior. I was not disappointed this time around, but I was curious about why this was common with the bands that I loved.
My first thoughts were that the bands probably did not want their singles to disappear as attention moved towards the full albums; but why were those singles the best songs on the albums?
As I looked across different artists I came to a hard conclusion: albums are terrible.
I do not hate albums themselves or think that any music that comes from an album is bad, an album is a great way for a band or musical artist to take some time and produce inspired work that can be appreciated; however, it does not always work out like that. The concept of an album has been almost commodified to the point where it encourages sub-par work.
Albums containing filler songs are not a new concept, the rock band Black Sabbath’s hits like “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” were written as filler songs that were never meant to be iconic to the band. Seldom do those filler songs become defining for the album.
An album is supposed to be an experience, an act of a story that has a unique tone that can still be related to the artist. Filler songs and interludes are not necessarily bad, but they are becoming more common. It is almost as if artists are set with a requirement of an album-length and songs are produced just to meet that minimum.
More often than not it is the fault of the label and not the artist. Record labels will put a time and song requirement on bands, putting quantitative measures on a qualitative process. I think that albums can be amazing pieces of art, but sadly they often fall short on the consistency of quality. I want to be excited about a new track coming from a great band or artist, but I also want the music to be driven and inspired, I want it to be what made me fall in love with the band the first time I heard them. Not every song can be a hit, but sometimes a single can last longer than an album.
Featured Image by Christian Villarreal
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