Thursday, May 22, 2008

I was listening to Slanted and Enchanted on the train (which won't make you pay $15 to check a bag) a few weeks ago, and realized that my favorite albums fall into two groups: those that continue to surprise me and reveal something new every time I listen to them, and those that I’ve internalized so thoroughly that I just don’t need to hear them anymore. Lamentably, I found that S&E falls into the latter category. As it played, I don’t think I registered for even a moment what I was hearing, but the music did seem to calm me and make me feel at peace with myself. Perhaps this is the greatest compliment I can give an album: that it is a part of me now, that listening to it is like looking at my hand, totally mundane but totally comforting.

But for every S&E, there’s an album like Bee Thousand, which I’ve loved forever and which still blows my mind in unexpected ways. Last time around, I realized that it’s the most beautifully produced album I’ve ever heard, so that its fragile melodies are even more precious (and something about the aesthetic of lo-fi being philosophically sound). And so on. I’m not sure what makes an album fall into one category or the other, but I find the division curious. There are other pairs like this: Up on the Sun (internalized), Double Nickels on the Dime (external wow); Rubber Soul (dusted treasure), Pet Sounds (eternal gee whiz). What are yours? Bonus question: Am I making sense?


Blogger aaron said...

on the bus the other day i followed a similar line of thought, except for me it was about rolling stones albums. i realized that most stones fans favorite album eventually becomes "exile on main street" not because it's necessarily their best, but because it holds the most mystery. the weird mixes (which, for my money, beat "murmur" to the punch by 11 years) bury everything so much it takes a lifetime to draw it all out and piece it all together. or something.

4:16 PM  
Blogger nick said...

yeeeah amtrak. the last time i rode they gave me a free mug and i got to see rural delaware.

i'd add crooked rain crooked rain (internalized), loveless (wow) and maybe ziggy stardust (dusted) to that list as well.

bee thousand > S&E (?)

i still am amazed that records like that came out, and that they seem almost uniquely american. couple of dudes hang out in a garage and bang out a left field classic. brit indie rock seems so calculated, no?

10:18 AM  

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