An ode to the album format, and my top 11
As you may know, I'm a bit of an album junkie.
I don't buy singles. I abhor shuffle mode. Spotify and its ilk are foreign to me.
When I hit play, I want a 30-90 minute experience, not your 10 latest tracks slapped together. Highs and lows, openings and closings, amazing transitions, and contrasts between sections. Give me a movement, goddamn it. Evoke emotions. Hold a thought for more than 3 minutes 15 seconds, and don't you dare fall back on that chorus one time too many. Throw me off balance; don't just give me what I expected.
I can guess how good an album is going to be from the first half-dozen spins, but it's around 10-20 spins that I figure out how good it really is. That's the exciting discovery phase, where it starts to burn into your brain a bit. From there I'll easily spin it 80-120 times (or more) if it's one of the great ones. That's the pure bliss phase: You think you know it, but you're still finding tiny details, and it hasn't become old hat.
Then there are the albums that just never wear out.
Here's my current top eleven (deal with it). They're unranked, but man the first three get serious bonus points for containing my favorite track transitions ever. I give Pink Floyd & The Who a second honorable mention each because they really are the paragons of the format.
- Pretty. Odd. - Panic! At the Disco
- Some Nights - Fun.
- Let Live and Let Ghosts - Jukebox the Ghost
- Black Holes and Revelations - Muse
- Give Up - The Postal Service
- Animals - Pink Floyd (honorable mention: Wish You Were Here)
- Folie a Deux - Fall Out Boy
- Blackstar - David Bowie
- Broken Bride - Ludo
- Quadrophenia - The Who (honorable mention: Tommy)
- Nordo - Air Traffic Controller (my latest addition to this list of greatness)
Genre footnote: I'm sticking to the refuge of my rock/alt standard fare here. I've been getting increasingly into jazz, and while Time Out (Brubeck) and Kind of Blue (Davis) surely are among the greatest albums, I'm abstaining from venturing into that genre with Opinions™ yet. I also have a few strong soundtrack opinions as well, but I've likewise omitted those as I only dabble with them and am not a huge proponent of taking that music out of its context.