The confines of CD and vinyl are over, albums are no longer constrained to a mere 80 minutes, artists are now free to sprawl their music out for many hours, and they will…
Or will they? Long albums were unquestionably one of the major industry trends of last year, Kurt Vile’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze was nearly 70mins, Laura Marling clocked up over an hour for Once I Was An Eagle, whilst Arcade Fire’s album, including hidden tracks was a whopping 85 minutes. Surely this marked not just a new found freedom, but the death of the album as we know it, the concept of distilling a bands sound down into a perfect snap-shot somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour, would give way to sprawling opuses. The rebirth of prog into a new all together more horrifyingly bloated beast was surely inevitable, right?
We’re over selling the point, but this is of course nonsense! You only have to look at the relatively unimpressive record of double albums to see that as much as we all like to hear lot of music by our favourite bands, we don’t really want it all at once. The human concentration span is one of the major reasons for this; we at FTR find it hard to pay attention to an album for much more than half an hour without wanting some other distraction, and as you might have guessed, we love listening to music! Fine for an album like Kurt Vile’s, designed to wash over your senses, but pop records like Arcade Fire? To our ears you could have halved that album and made something brilliant, rather than the bloated reality.
The album will never, as recently suggested in The Guardian, die-out because it’s too perfect. Too wonderfully suited to how we, as human beings, like to absorb information. In fact a more logical future would be a reduced album length, we’re constantly being told that human-attention spans are shrinking, so why should our albums get longer? If this years anything to go by, this might actually be the case, lately I seem to be getting more and more albums that are barely touching half an hour. Alvvays: 33 minutes, Owl John: 35, Dignan Porch: 38. Chorus by today’s featured artist Literature, roles in at a gargantuan 29 minutes, and it’s none the worse for that.
Trends come and go, vinyl beget tapes beget CD beget downloads beget streaming…and the album outlives them all, and shows no sign of dying out anytime soon.
Literature are the work of Kevin Attics, Nathaniel Cardaci, Chris Schackerman, and Seth Whaland.
The surfy bass playing of Cayucas, meets the jangling guitar playing of The Smiths, and it all end up sounding like the best bits of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, only much faster, and a bit more fun!
They’re now based out of Philadelphia, though Kevin met Nathaniel and Seth in Austin, Texas. They’re a real bands band, having all had past lives running venues, labels and presumably doing one of those boring day jobs that makes money somewhere along the line. Philadelphia is pretty hot right now courtesy of the success of the likes of Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, and Sunny Day In Glasgow; whilst Austin is always pretty hot because it’s in Texas.
Following a well received debut single, the bands first album, Arab Spring, was released back in 2012. This led to a high-profile show at NYC Pop-Fest and a support slot for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s tour around the US. They clearly perked up the ears of Slumberland Records, as the bands latest album Chorus will be coming out on the Indie-pop powerhouse on the 18th of August. Slumberland of course being the US home for the likes of Joanna Gruesome, Frankie Rose and the aforementioned Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
Because Literature sound like all your favourite pop songs from the 80’s being played at the pace of The Ramones. Musically, they sometimes borrow from Orange Juice (Dance Shoes), sometimes The Jam (Tie-Dye), and there’s always a bit of The Smiths (all of it!). Vocally there’s a hint of Jonathan Richman on show, which is always a real treat, and indeed the band play with some of the easy going looseness of The Modern Lovers or their contemporaries on the late 70’s punk scene.
Their upcoming album crams 11 songs into 29 minutes, and if that sounds hectic, it is, but it’s a delightfully out-of-control ride! New single New Jacket, with it’s reverb heavy guitar line is a particular treat, whilst the title track, Chorus, is a reminder of just how good a simple Indie-Pop song can be!
Attempts to listen to it with a headache were made the other day and we can confirm that’s not a good idea at all! The pace is relentless and perhaps a little pause for breath somewhere along the way wouldn’t go amiss. You’ll learn to live at their pace though, and when you do you’ll feel like everyone else is just wasting your time!
Literatures new album Chorus is out on Slumberland Records on the 18th of August.