Kevin Buckle: The album as an artform is dying

Not many young people buy albums, let alone listen to them from start to finish. Picture: Getty
Not many young people buy albums, let alone listen to them from start to finish. Picture: Getty
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Saturday, 13 October has been declared National Album Day and while many will see it as a cynical marketing ploy there is actually much merit in listening to an album as an artist intended.

However, therein lies the first flaw in any argument – and that is how many artists these days actually record an album with the intention it is listened to from start to finish.

Some artists I’m sure still do in the vain hope that songs will be heard in the order intended but many either give it little thought or do put some effort into the track listing without any expectation it will matter.

I’m a big fan of the Scottish band There Will Be Fireworks and their self-titled debut album was released almost ten years ago when concerns first started over how people listened to albums. It starts with a spoken word introduction by Kevin MacNeil the Outer Hebridean poet, novelist and playwright.

“Red-eyed and desperately sad, a girl in Colombia whispered to K-San

“My sister is dead, my sister whose life was mine. What can I do?”

So far so good but by the second verse the killer line comes in

“For there will be fireworks

And they will light up your eyes”

All the time the band are playing in the background building up the atmosphere and literally on the first listen after the first song people are expecting the album to be something special. Thankfully it doesn’t disappoint.

Compare that to many albums I hear now that are just a collection of songs that have often already been drip fed to fans so that by the time the album comes out there really is little new to hear.

Of course there are still plenty of albums coming out from established artists who do give some thought to “the album” but that isn’t to say their fans are of the same mind.

I suspect National Album Day will get approving nods from older folk who still believe in the old ways but will generally be ignored by younger generations who if truth be told struggle to get to the end of a song, never mind listen to a whole album in a particular order.

When the second There Will Be Fireworks album came out at the end of 2013 there was a feeling it would be hard to equal never mind outdo their previous efforts but suffice to say they did.

Unfortunately their musical prowess is not matched by their business acumen and neither album is currently available in a physical format, but you can listen to both on YouTube.

We live in strange times when bands rather than just getting out and playing are expected to go to workshops and act like small businesses but for all this “organisation” most of then seem unable to even pick a decent name that both reflects their music and gets them through the minefield of being searched for on Google.

This could be the start of other music-related days and personally I’d get behind National If Something Isn’t Very Good It Won’t Sound Any Better On Vinyl Day!