Almost exactly two years ago, I began 100 Albums simply to give myself both a reason to write and a goal to accomplish. Summing up an album in 1,000 words each week initially seemed doable; however, I soon discovered I could easily write closer to twice that length (sometimes more) about particular records, but needed more time to do so. Two years on, and I’ve reached not my original goal, but rather serendipitously the halfway mark.
I chose to write about my favorite albums chronologically, hoping it would allow me to develop an ongoing narrative about how both music and my personal taste has evolved. While there’s not much linking such disparate records as Future Listening! and It’s Heavy In Here together apart from coming out in the same year, if you go to any random entry (particularly past the first ten), you’ll see plenty of links referring to earlier entries. When I write criticism, I usually fall back on that (admittedly useful) trope of comparing and contrasting. Here, it’s especially useful in tracking how one piece of music informs another; I can only see it continuing throughout the remaining 50 entries.
Speaking of which, I suspect it will take longer than two more years to get through them. For starters, I’m off on a brief hiatus to focus on other endeavors, but in general, I find myself increasingly challenged to make each new entry fresh and not a rehash of ideas already explored. As I look over the list (that I’m continuously revising, by the way), I see great opportunities to expand and deepen this partial narrative, so I’m going to take time to put in the effort and keep the bar for myself set high. 100 Albums will continue, but don’t be surprised if the pace slackens intermittently.
When this project (eventually) returns, it will enter 1996 with one of the great Difficult Third Albums. Until then, click here for a playlist of songs from the last 50 albums (with a few substitutions for those records not on Spotify). Also embedded above: a brief history of how we got from there to here as summed up by XTC’s Andy Partridge.