Albums are better than songs. Disagree? So does my sister. "Bands only ever have one good song anyway", she says. Rubbish; albums are better than songs.
They're also all I listen to. And I look at the tracklisting before I press play. "Interesting", I might murmur to an empty room, "a 30-second intro..." I scope it all out, how they're mixing up song lengths, how many tunes there are. Detailed song title analysis. Then when I listen, I map out what they're doing - rocky opener, longer second, slower third.....
More than that! I like it when they link songs together, with little interludes or whatever. Or when everything flows together so it's maybe not even songs. On albums like that you can do away with the notion that every song has to be an enclosed entity.....you can have the "album track". Example: Slint's "For Dinner...", which I'm listening to now, is really slow and restrained. If all their songs were like that, I'd get bored. If it was a single, I'd be bored. But between "Washer" and "Good Morning, Captain" - two longer and more attention-grabbing tracks - it works perfectly. Glues the whole thing together. I'm also the kind of guy who can't listen to a song without listening to the song before it. "Nantes" is wrong without "A Call To Arms", and god damn it, I will never skip "The Past Is A Grostesque Animal".
But whoa now, who gives a shit? Anyone? Sure, no-one buys physical singles anymore, but they sure download a million jizzabytes a second or some similar ridiculous amount. Are they all downloading entire albums? Are they listening to them in order? Maybe not - sometimes if its leaked, you don't get all the tracks at once. And you know, this software we've all got now can do magical things like play your most-listened to songs, or only songs from the sixties, or only songs from bands with two female members and a cello that was recorded on a Friday in Venice upside-down from a tree. You can chop up your collection any which way but every time someone uses it they're listening to their music in a way that's different from the way it was intended by the artist.
Or, wait, is that true? Do artists care about albums as a format? Or is it just a bunch of their songs chucked in a bag, shaken around and poured out at random? There was that thing a while back where Ash said they were giving up albums altogether, and just releasing singles. They said: "The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks".
Well I still want to hear albums. I'll hear songs by a new band like I read the blurb on the back of a book - I know the general idea, now I want to read the whole story.
So do you listen to albums or songs? Do you think your habits, or people's habits in general, have changed in the last x years? And, most importantly, do you skip The Past Is A Grotesque Animal?