Album Closers Done Right

Album closers are a tricky business. This is the last song the listener will hear, you want it to be good. You probably don’t want it to be your heaviest or most energetic (I suppose there are some exceptions to this), it’s a good time to get epic and wordy. These are the album closers that we feel do a good job:

The Swingin’ Utters – Shadows and Lies (Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones)
This closer reminds me of old mafia movies (the classy kind) like the Godfather. It kinda has this sinister, scary vibe to it. It has stylistic similarities to their Filthy Thieving Bastards side project.

Weezer – Butterfly (Pinkerton)
I often cite Pinkerton as my favourite album, and Butterfly is a perfect closer to it. It leaves behind the abrasive emotionally charged sound of the rest of the album, and goes into a sombre acoustic ballad about the fleeting nature of desire and the guilt that follows.

Rancid – Coppers (Life Won’t Wait)
After exploring all sorts of genres throughout “Life Won’t Wait”, Rancid end with a Caribbean sounding number. Coppers features Lars and guest singer Buju Banton taking turns on vocals culminating in a back in forth outro between the two.

Another Breath – Eleventh Hour (The God Complex)
“The God Complex” is a concept album where the protagonist succumbs to nihilism brought on from the violence and pain in his life. The last track “Eleventh Hour” serves as a summation of this attitude with a chorus line of “We live, and we give, and we’re dead!”. In the last piece of the song, in the “eleventh hour”, the protagonist finds spirituality and meaning as the guitars silence. “I see it, in the streets, it’s the ground beneath my feet, it’s the hunger, it’s disease, there’s truth in the harmony,” is sung as the guitars come back in full force to support. It’s my favourite part of a great album.

Billy Bragg – Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards (Workers Playtime)
Workers playtime is not my favourite Billy Bragg album. It has some good songs, “Life With the Lions” sticks out. But the last track is a soulful piano/guitar ballad about the nature of mixing pop music with politics. It kind of serves as an anthem for Bragg’s career in general.

Against Me! – The Ocean
(New Wave)
It’s hard to say what this song is specifically about. The first stanza paints a lyrical picture of the ocean as it moves from nature to civilization, the next verse is a digression foreshadowing Tom Gabel’s sex change. But it’s the outro that makes my spine tingle, “There is an ocean, in my soul, where the waters do no curve”. I can’t say what the Tom meant by this, but I interpret it as follows: Tom’s inner world (his soul) is fast and endless like an ocean. His (and all of our) external world, where the waters “curve”, to fit expectations. Like the ocean and water, which fit in the pipes and sewers to serve the needs of others. It’s a powerful image of an endless inner world that hides behind the surface of us all.

Rum Runner – Dead Men are Heavier than Broken Hearts (In Guns At Cyrano’s)
For some reason I hardly hear anyone talking about this band, they’re an delicious combination of the Pogues and Sham 69. They save the best song of the album for last.

The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (All Mod Cons)
The verse begins with some quick bass movements, the guitars follows later. The song moves into a sing-a-long chorus with gang vocals and woahs. The song is about being robbed by right wing hooligans when you’re trying to buy curry.

Dead to Me – Visiting Day (Cuban Ballerina)
After a whole album about addiction, pain, and recovery Dead to Me fittingly end with a song titled “Visiting Day”. The track has vocals from both Chicken and Jack, chicken taking the first part, Jack the latter. They meet in the end, where they share the outro.

The Gaslight Anthem – Red at Night (Sink or Swim)
Another beautiful acoustic ender (a common trend in album ending). This music of this song was adapted from Billy Bragg and Wilco’s cover from the Gunthrie archives “Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key”. It features some harmonica, a folky sound, and a lot of pain.