I’m an album listener. When I sit down to listen to music, it’s almost always an album I listen to rather than a mishmash of songs from various albums / artists. I’ve kind of always been this way, probably stemming from my CD player as a kid being a pain to change CDs for. Once a disc was in, you were committed.
But it also speaks to my love of stories and storytelling. A great album to me has a clear beginning, middle and end, and the singles plucked from it are merely “trailers” for the full story. And I’m using the word story in it’s loosest form, I just want to get to the end and feel like I was taken on a journey, even if there was no narrative thread.
To that end, I’m starting to develop a real thing about album closers, that last track on the album that brings the journey to an end. A good closer will raise my opinion on an album immensely, a great closer will make me immediately listen to it again.
A good closer has emotional punch. It ends (rather than fades). It leave me wanting more. It brings together threads of the journey so far and snips them off. For me, loud is usually a good way to end, but there are exceptions. It is the ultimate Album Track, making sense only in the wider context.
So without further faffing about, here are my favourite Enders in no particular order (and as I just said, they *must* be heard in the context of the rest of the album). I love them all.
Anberlin – Fin* (Album: Cities)
Anberlin are masters at this (with God Drugs & Sex from Vital also deserving an honourable mention). It builds and builds before exploding (lovely and loud) but it’s the final 2 minutes that earn this track it’s place. Completely ad-libbed by frontman Stephen Christian, the emotion and lyrics bring the album to a shattering close.
You Me At Six – When We Were Younger (Album: Sinners Never Sleep)
The whole album I was waiting for this. I wanted a massive, (yes, loud) and bombastic ending like “The Rumour” on Take Off Your Colours had given me. Instead what we get is a slow, tense, moody vocal dealing with feelings of responsibility and duty. Josh Franceschi lets his voice tear and quiver just enough as the track builds but never explodes. On first listen, I hated this as a closer, I wanted it to break into noise. On repeat listens though, it has cemented in my mind as the best track on the album.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Like Antennas To Heaven (Album: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven)
Full disclaimer; this is probably my favourite album ever, and almost entirely because of the weird, warped and whining bagpipes at the end. My God. So lonely, so lost, such a desperately sad end to the long and varied journey this album goes on. I can’t help but love it.
Rebecca & Fiona – Heavy (Album: Beauty is Pain)
And now for something completely different! I’m a huge fan of R&F, their first album “I Love You Man” has been played completely to death in my house, and Beauty Is Pain is even better. But for me, the closer on this is just a stonker. A massive club track noise fest to close off a sometimes complex and varied album. A 5pm Friday track if ever I heard one.
CHVRCHES – You Caught The Light (Album: The Bones of What You Believe)
I’m late to the CHVRCHES bandwagon, but I’m riding it hard now. This final track is easily my favourite though. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in love with Lauren Mayberry’s vocals (as are their fanbase going by the YouTube commenters who spend enormous amounts of time slagging off Iain Cooke’s vocals), so to put this as the closer is incredibly brave. But it’s spectacular. The less polished vocals, slower pace and high pitched synth contrast with the tightness of the rest of the album. It’s totally gorgeous.
Mew – Reprise (Album: No More Stories…)
Comforting Sounds seems like the obvious Closer to choose from Mew, but I actually prefer this one (and consider it the “real” ending to No More Stories, not sort-of-bonus track “Nervous”). Unusually lyrically straightforward for Mew, Jonas’s voice in a lower register than usual lends weight and honesty to them, leaving the album on a sad and pensive note.
65daysofstatic – Safe Passage (Album: Wild Light)
Oh my God this album. Strongest opening I’ve heard in forever, slamming into a heavy synth riff that sets the tone for the whole album. And then this monster comes along to close it. Starting quietly before building into a cacophony of melodic noise and finally cutting off all too soon and abruptly. This album to me is a masterpiece, and this closer brings that home.
There are others that I considered including. Of Monster and Men – Yellow Light, Rebecca & Fiona – Sleep Alone, Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Wedding Song and many others coming close but not quite making my faves.
If anyone has any recommendations for other epic closers, let me know in the comments