Albums (as in the crafting of an audio journey) are sadly a dying art; a finically stupid option in the era of singles and EPs.
They are more than just a collection of 10 or so songs from 1 artist or band; it has fast and slow moments to keep you listening and to create an object greater than the sum of its parts.
One of my favourite parts of albums is the closer. Different to outros (which aren’t songs in themselves), closers are often longer, more mellow songs to give a sense of accomplishment, ease and closure. A good closer can stand on its own as a good song but is also crucial part of a perfect album. They reaffirm the album’s message and vibe. Without them, it would feel empty and incomplete.
The self-titled final song* of the critically acclaimed album Demon Days by Gorillaz reassures and fulfils the listener. Its heavenly aesthetic with a choir and string orchestra increases feelings of timely departure. It feels soft and ethereal, like floating on clouds. This is despite the lyrics like “So hard for a good soul to survive” reminding you of the horrors below.
It encompasses the whole album’s ethos: A sense of dystopia with glimmers of hope scattered throughout. If the song Demon Days did not exist, the listener would be left feeling uneasy and in a negative mindset. It reminds listeners of those glimmers of hope.
A more clear-cut example is Denmark-Van Gogh & Gone by Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (a band still creating albums in this modern day). It is about double the length of the rest of the songs on the record. This allows for a much slower build with softer guitars. There are no sudden changes in dynamics that you bang your head to, but rather, you softly bob along to the beat. This gives feelings of accomplishment and ease, exactly what you need after such an explosive album! If such a song was absent, the album’s dynamics would fall apart, it would feel like a bunch of singles poorly fitted together. It would appear as if the band only knew how to make a good fast beat, which would come off as repetitious and exhausting.
A closer can be obvious or subtle in its song writing but its purpose is always apparent. It is one of the cornerstones of a stellar album, cementing its ideals and fulfilling the listener. Next time you sit down and listen to an album I urge you to think of how it is structured. This can lead you to have a much deeper appreciation for the music.
*The final song is really spilt into two but I am focusing on the final part: Demon Days.
Other notable mentions:
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - November
Gold Class - Lux
Blind Dog - Sun
Tool - Right in Two
Arctic Monkeys – 505
John Butler Trio – Sometimes
Justice – One Minute to Minute