On song transitions

Sometimes, when bands make their albums, they get the idea to make one song transition directly into another, proving that the album format isn’t quite dead yet. The popular concept of “shuffling” kind of screws this up. I like listening to albums all the way through, probably largely due to the fear that maybe I’ll miss one of these sweet transitions: Shuffling through my playlist, one song just cuts off mysteriously! Terrified, I’ll hurriedly try to figure out what I just missed out on, only to learn that I’m already on to some other random track. I appreciate spontaneity, but this is just annoying. Below are some times when you should flip off your shuffling and slip into loop to fully appreciate these excellent transitions:

Radiohead, Kid A, between “Idioteque” and “Morning Bell”

The players in Radiohead take their song transitions very seriously. On Kid A, not only do you get that noodly ending on “Optimistic,” but also a neat little fade-out at the end of “Idioteque.” Does the song end there? Yes and no — the music smoothly transitions from a fuzzy guitar wash to insistent drumming and more of Thom Yorke’s crooning. It goes from electronic to spastic. Despite the smooth transition, “Idioteque” and “Morning Bell” are two distinctly different songs.

Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary, between “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” and “I’ll Believe in Anything”

In this transition, the pseudo-ending of “Dear Sons” is reminiscent of its intro, until the drums kick in — kind of like Radiohead’s transition into “Morning Bell.” Perhaps intense drumming is a tenet of the song transition: Here, the band uses them to emphasize the songs’ different rhythms.

Justice, Cross, between “Genesis” and “Let There Be Light”

Though the two songs have the same sort of feeling at the transition point, overall each has a completely different mood: “Genesis” is loud and overbearing, whereas “Let There be Light” is a much more wobbly number, leading into Justice’s bouncy and poppy hit single, “D.A.N.C.E.”

The Microphones, The Glow Pt. II, between “I Want Wind to Blow” and “The Glow, Pt. 2”

This transition is great because it’s unpredictable; it moves from a repetitive drum rhythm and chord progression to crashing drums and cymbals and a wailing electric guitar. After getting your attention, the band switches back to acoustic guitar strumming while vocalist Phil Elverum sing-talks about taking his shirt off and other things.

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