13 January 2008

Start To End

I just recently got an MP3 player and while organizing it, it got me thinking about how many albums out there are really worth listening to from start to finish. I mean, there are albums out there that were admittedly put together in 2 weeks (Beyoncé's B'Day, for example), and many more debut albums that took years to write, filtering out the bad songs, and making sure every detail is perfect. But even after the artist's carefully planned out his album, you'll find that there is usually at least one dud. The age of MP3 players has only made skipping whole albums easier. I still have some songs that have not been played once (I must just have the album for completeness' sake). So, dear readers: in your opinion, what albums are enjoyable from start to finish? Or could have only one forgivable dud? No "Greatest Hits" albums please! Here's my list:

  1. Hopes and Fears by Keane: this is one of those debut albums that took years to put together. Although one particular song, "Untitled 1", is skippable to me, it actually still ends up in the "favorites" list of some fans.

  2. From the Choirgirl Hotel by Tori Amos: touted by many critics as her most accessible album, this is the one where Tori unveils her "plugged" sound, obviously grungier and angrier in the wake of her recent miscarriage, but no less musically complex. I do love the twinkly sound of her piano in her debut "Little Earthquakes", but I can't argue with just how well this album is put together. The one dud: "Hotel."

  3. The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot: This is their first album under the Columbia label, and I have to say the execs did an excellent job, even including a redone "Dare You To Move" from their previous album. This album is message-wise, the perfect mix of introspection and social consciousness that colors their previous and succeeding albums, respectively. I do skip, ironically, the track "Beautiful Letdown", but listening to it recently I realized it's still a good track, just slowed down in the beginning by weird drums.

  4. Time and Tide by Basia: this is the first album I listened to from start to finish over and over again and memorized all the lyrics, and yes, it is a jazz album. It just simply stood the test of time for me. I guess the second album would be Wilson Philips's self-titled debut, but I don't have it anymore and I have no idea if many of the songs still resonate in me.

  5. Final Fantasy Songbook Mahoroba by Nobuo Uematsu: when I'm studying, I can't have music with lyrics as the words distract me. FFSM is mostly an instrumental album, with some tracks in Japanese. I don't care. It's so brilliantly arranged, with various influences for many tracks (Japanese, Celtic, Spanish) that I just have to admire it.

  6. Black Holes and Revelations by Muse: I don't even remember what made me get this album in the first place. And "Supermassive Black Hole" was awfully overplayed, but I'm always a sucker for classically-influenced arrangements and this extremely heavy album-slash-laser light show only falters on one track: "Soldier's Poem."

There are some more contenders, but they've not yet been elevated to the status of "unskippable" or maybe just have too many "so-so" tracks.

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