As I have been listening to more and more music throughout the years, my appreciation for albums has increased significantly. I have learned to understand the careful crafting of an album, whether it be sonically or emotionally. The curation of an album is specific and an album is inherently created to be listened to fully, rather than picking and choosing songs. Not fully listening to an album is ignoring the difference between an album and a set of singles. An album allows you to get more out of the music and thoroughly understand what the artist is trying to convey. Listed below are some of my favorite albums, and I encourage you to listen to them.
IGOR by Tyler the Creator
Tyler the Creator’s Grammy-winning sixth album immediately transports you into a different world with the first song, IGOR’S THEME, which is a perfect introduction into the album. Tyler tells the complete story of his experiences in a love triangle to the listener starting with him falling in love, then feeling used, and ending with him questioning if he is still friends with his previous love interests. The unconventional production of this album is brilliantly paired with Tyler’s vulnerable lyrics. The features on the album greatly enhance the experience while also allowing Tyler to tell his story, which creates a beautiful balance between the two. Lastly, seamless transitions between each of the songs leaves the listeners unaware of the changing of songs.
Dreamland by COIN
According to the band’s twitter, COIN’s third album Dreamland is about living with uncertainty and loving something so passionately that it is something you are unable to live without. Each of the songs on this album are based on emotions and archetypal human experiences, allowing every listener to connect with this album in their own way. The upbeat tempo in the songs serves as a great mood booster, which may be especially helpful during these emotionally taxing times. This album is cohesive and complete without feeling as if there is meaningless repetition, and every song serves a purpose, adding to the overall experience. Some of my favorites from the album include Let It All Out (10:05), Nobody’s Baby, Into My Arms, and Dreamland Sequence.
Neotheater by AJR
In Neotheater, AJR, a trio of brothers, comment on a variety of topics not traditionally talked about in society, like moving out, sponsorship, and the assumptions about the world from the perspective of a baby. While each of the songs provides deep commentary on specific subjects, the tempo and production keep the songs from being too heavy, allowing the listener to just enjoy the music without overanalyzing it. Though AJR is considered a pop trio, the inclusion of unique sounds, like school bells and songs from the 1940’s, causes a distinct sound that makes them stand out in the crowd. AJR is also special in that they meticulously embed references to other songs in the album throughout Neotheater, which is something I have never heard other artists do. Overall, this album is sure to leave you enjoying the music while also inspiring critical thinking on the lyrics.
Nothing Happens by Wallows
Wallows’ debut studio album Nothing Happens has easily become one of my favorite albums ever since my first listen. The album encapsulates the transition from being a teen to adulthood, which is well understood by band members Dylan Minette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston as they are all in their early 20’s. Some themes the songs touch on are isolation, insecurities while growing up, and the different perspectives of a relationship. Each one of the songs is distinct yet unified with the rest of the album. Similar to IGOR, all of the transitions are well thought out and even the last song blends perfectly into the first song on the album, creating a perfect loop and greatly enhancing the listening experience. The album ends on the song Do Not Wait, which aims to explain to listeners that while everything in your teen years may feel huge, in the end, it is not a significant part of one’s life. During the bridge, Minette sings about specific events commonly shared by teenagers and repeats “nothing happens”, summarizing the message of the album. By exploring emotions felt by teenagers, the album ends on a song about finally gaining a perspective. Wallows showcase their emotional maturity and creates a contrast between their album and other albums focusing on teenage experiences. My favorite songs from the album are What You Like, Remember When, Treacherous Doctor and Do Not Wait.
Good at Falling by The Japanese House
Good at Falling by The Japanese House is an album like no other. While the inspiration behind each of the songs is very common throughout music, a breakup, the production makes the album remarkable and noteworthy. The use of synths and autotune can cause the focus to be turned away from the singing, yet it still offers a breath of fresh air. The autotune used dramatically morphs artist Amber Bains’s voice to make it seem as if there is more than one person singing throughout the record, which adds depth. A listener does not feel the length of the album as each of the transitions blends each of the cohesive songs together. It is easy to say that there is no one like The Japanese House and her music will always be out of the ordinary.