FT5: Album Closers
In the current state of the music industry, we’re all overly concerned with singles, rather than the completed album. But, long ago, people put thought and art into the creation of the ending of an album, the summation of their musical statement. We all have sat in our rooms, at least I hope, waiting for that last song, that last breath of music, in hopes of the perfect summation to an album. A brilliant closer almost always warrants a brilliant album, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite album closers that always guarantee we listen to said album all the way through until the needles hits the vinyl and emits that hiss signaling the end of the record.
What can I say about this album and about this song that hasn’t already been said? I think we all know that this is not the best song on the album, but damnit if it doesn’t hit you right in the heart. I’m going with this album ender because it’s a heart felt story closer sort of like the last chapter of the book that is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. This album takes you through a tale of wanting to break your lovers heart, to realizing that you actually do love this person and back again. After all is said and done, after all the trials and tribulations and rocky parts of a relationship are dug through, Tweedy finally comes clean with: “How can I convince you it’s me I don’t like?” He wants to love you so bad, but he’s just a self-conscious man like the rest of us who pushes you away because he’s unsure of himself. “I’ve got reservations. About so many things, but not about you. Not about you”. Damn if that doesn’t get me every time. Stay real Tweedy.
4. Cursive – Staying Alive (The Ugly Organ)
While constructing his rock-opera, Tim Kasher knowingly need a concise ending to encapsulate all is feelings in regards to the end of The Ugly Organ. Such a dynamic album surely needed an ending that demonstrated the depth of his songwriting. “Staying Alive” builds for nearly two minutes, with a demonic undercurrent, emphasized with a beautiful string arrangements. All the imagery of the entire album builds up to this point, as the swirling guitars and Kasher’s vocals remind us that despite the struggles of his character, he will stay alive; he will push on through the pain and the sorrow, continuing to share his world with you. It’s almost like a farewell note, or a reminder that we will always have him to turn to in the end. The track expands beyond the ten minute mark, just barely, and ends chanting that “the worst is over.” For haters of the band, it’s over, and for those who love the band, we can look forward to sunnier days.
3. Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out) (The Bends)
Is your life spiraling into oblivion? Thom Yorke feels your pain and wrote this track to put it to music. “Street Sprit (Fade Out)” completes The Bends on a very dark dismal note, but it is one of the most meaningful and poignant songs Radiohead has ever written. The song transcends the rest of the album and puts the whole journey into perspective. The moment that you hear that first haunting guitar riff, you can truly sense that the the album is coming to a dead, almost ambiguous, end. It is refreshing not to hear the cookie-cutter finale you would expect. Although a bit on the depressing side, everyone can appreciate a little 90s angst and emotion.
2. Weezer – Only in Dreams (s/t)
“Only In Dreams” was an easy pick for me… it’s the perfect ending to one of the greatest albums of the past 20 years. Not only do I believe that this song is Weezer’s masterpiece, it’s probably a Top 5 song of all time for me. Where to start? How about Rivers Cuomo’s strongest guitar work to date? Or maybe the Matt Sharp baseline that refuses to conform to the rest of the song while the track plays? Or the three-minute long jam session at the end with drum work that slowly melts your face? I listened to the Blue Album on repeat all through my adolescence. I timed it where this song was playing when it was time to turn out the lights, and I just laid in bed listening to it with my eyes closed (while doing air guitar, of course). On an album full of radio-friendly, chart-topping numbers it only made sense to save the best for last.
1. Violent Femmes – Good Feeling (s/t)
Everything about this closer wraps up your feeling about what an album closer really should be. Sure, it’s addressed to a lady, but after one of the most revered albums of all time, you just want to hold onto that “good feeling.” You don’t want it to end, and neither do the rest of us who’ve listened to the album all the way through, hundreds of times, I might add. Melancholy and exhibiting a sense of longing, you won’t find a closer that wraps up both the album, the song, and our own emotions. We all want that feeling to “stay a little longer,” and we don’t want to feel like it’s leaving. Sadly, as much as we beg for that emotion to stay with us, it all must come to a finale. The Violent Femmes knew this, and in their closer, they’ve done what few could, perfectly wrapped up an album with just one brilliant song.
What closer ends your favorite album? Does it compare to our list? Drop us a line or two to share your thoughts, or just tell us we are totally wrong. We’re accepting of our faults, few as they might be.