Friday, 31 August 2012

Nineteen songs on one album (and why this is bad)

It used to be fairly standard for a dance or electronic album to fill up a CD to maximum - 74 minute runtimes were far from rare and sometimes you'd get them squeezing up to 80 minutes. Often these albums usually had long songs on them, 5mins+ for the majority of the tracks and some really long ones, so usually you'd only get somewhere between 8 and 11 tracks. I feel that this is about the number an album should peak at. I like long songs and short ones but regardless of length, I think this is about the right number for: 1) an artist to write in one go to get a decent consistency 2) the listener to get a good progression over the course of an album 3) the listener not to run out of steam and get bored.

I'm listening to Paul van Dyk's newest album now - it's sort of middling quality - but it has nineteen songs on it! This is even worse than Nero's album from last year. Even though most of the tracks are "radio length" - not necessarily good for a trance and house album - this still leaves my attention diluted over too many tracks. I've noticed this happening more and more often now that digital releases allow virtually no limit on album running time, and I just don't have the patience for this. Obviously double/triple albums always existed but at least that format implicitly allowed you to conceptually separate each side/disc/tape and give the listener a chance to take a break. I might be unusual on this forum in that I enjoy albums a lot, I don't know, but for me I take album quality as the main factor in deciding how much I like artists, not singles, and I like albums which go somewhere and have a consistent feel to them. So many of my most enjoyable listening experiences have come from a consistent and well-made album, usually more than hearing just a good single. These long ones are starting to sound like collections of songs, not works as a whole, and you have to do better than that to keep my attention for nearly two hours.