|Best album closer PAIRS|
I've been thinking lately about the best one-two combinations of songs that wrap albums up, and thought it'd be fun to draw up a list. In some cases, I initially thought of bands with incredible two-track runs at the end of their albums (Jethro Tull, Portishead, The Jesus Lizard, Slint, Bark Psychosis) but later removed them because they didn’t seem to bounce off each other as a pairing. Similarly, I didn’t include pairs that I felt were part of a wider back-end run (Unwound, Mogwai). In all these cases, I consider both tracks back-to-back to be the album’s closer, and the ranking is based both on how much I like the tracks individually and how well they work in combination.
JENNI // MAGIC DEALER
Honourary mention - I was struck by how Luci mentioned this album has no closer, just a penultimate track and an epilogue. This is pretty accurate and interesting enough to merit a place
|40||Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds|
Let Love In
LAY ME LOW // DO YOU LOVE ME PT.2
This winds up at the bottom mainly because I’m the least sure of how well it works as a pairing - in many ways, Lay Me Low’s pompous despair sets up the lonesome piano ballad of Do You Love Me Pt. 2 perfectly, but the latter feels too tied to its opening counterpart for this to work as a true pairing.
Worship and Tribute
TRAILER PARK JESUS // TWO TABS OF MESCALINE
One of Glassjaw's best slow tracks followed by their most climatic. Great stuff.
ASH-RA // COSMOS
These two are both solid tracks but their interrelation is what landed them here. Ash-ra is tense and riveting, Cosmos is a much-needed winddown to a characteristically dramatic album.
The Lonesome Crowded West
BANKRUPT ON SELLING // STYROFOAM BOOTS
Aside from being two of the more powerful songs in the MM canon, these two feed into each other perfectly with how they thaw out the album's hostile edge and end it on a more tender note. Their pairing loses a few points for how Styrofoam Boots' extended jam makes things a little lopsided.
Downward Is Heavenward
APOLLO // THE SCIENTISTS
Quintessential calm-before-the-storm combo, but what scores this a place is the shared emotional sincerity that seems to flow from one track to the next. Apollo is distant and heartsick while the Scientists is earnest and intense, but both seem to share the same intent and resonance.
|35||Circle Takes the Square|
As the Roots Undo
KILL THE SWITCH // A CRATER TO COUGH IN
Two obnoxiously ambitious epics, each trying to out-cathartisize the other. It's a wonderful chaotic mess.
MUSICIAN // ASHITA NI WA SUBETE GA OWARU TOSHITE
A slow burning shoegaze colossus followed up by a bittersweet, upbeat track with a similar sound palette; really strong, protracted way to raise the stakes on an otherwise lean album
Hex Enduction Hour
ICELAND // AND THIS DAY
Tongue-in-cheek minimalism followed by an all-out sensory assault over 11 minutes. No-one screwed with the rulebook quite like Mark E Smith + co.
SIBERIAN DIVIDE // PENDULOUS SKIN
The fantastically raucous climax of one of Mastodon's silliest albums meets its match in one of their most beautiful and melodically complex songs. These two bring things to a close perfectly.
DOLLAR DAYS // I CAN'T GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY
A devastating emotional bodyblow in two instalments. David Bowie picked a powerful note to go off on.
WELL-DRESSED // SISTER CITIES
Two emotional gut-punches of very different textures close off Hop Along's wonderful middle album. Well-Dressed is the kind of stunner that pulls the carpet from under your feet, and many artists would have called things quits directly after. Not Hop Along - Sister Cities follows on jauntily but strings along a lyrical portrait that is no less moving than its biting predecessor.
Is This Desire?
NO GIRL SO SWEET // IS THIS DESIRE?
This combination is like PJ Harvey's darkest, most paranoid album briefly flying off the rails and then slowly drawing itself up to the full strength of its allure. The pairing is a little shaky, but the juxtaposition between these tracks (both among her strongest) is well worth a mention.
Through Silver in Blood
AEON // ENCLOSED IN FLAME
Two of the most expansive, crushing tracks put to tape. They chime together as a devastating final act to Neurosis' strongest album, but each is individually so overbearing that their pairing loses a few places.
Master of Puppets
ORION // DAMAGE INC.
An inevitable mention, for all the right reasons. Similar to Neurosis, these songs very much feel like the final movement of an album put together.
Misery is a Butterfly
PINK LOVE // EQUUS
If the cabaret nightmare of Pink Love is this album's finale, Equus follows on as a perfect palette cleanser and worthwhile epilogue. Excellent pairing.
Led Zeppelin IV
GOING TO CALIFORNIA // WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS
Something of a token mention, but the counterpoint between two of Zeppelin's finest songs makes for a stellar close to this classic album.
|24||Have a Nice Life|
I DON'T LOVE // EARTHMOVER
While Earthmover for many is a standalone behemoth, I Don't Love is far and away the album's emotional knockout punch. The two wouldn't be complete without each other.
|23||Children of Bodom|
CHILDREN OF BODOM // DOWNFALL
An epic, pyrotechnic metal final for the ages. Sensational stuff.
Siren Song of the Counter Culture
SWING LIFE AWAY // RUMOURS OF MY DEMISE HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED
Another calm/clamour combination, the relation between these two is self-explanatory but they close their album with aplomb.
|21||Life Without Buildings|
Any Other City
NEW TOWN // SORROW
If New Town was the scope of Life Without Building's irresistible chattery nonsense drawn out in to its most expansive, focused form, Sorrow was the sound of the band letting go, as though the former track's polish had been too much of a strain.
TONGUE-IN-CHIC // COSMOLOGY
Cosmology as an album is something of a freakshow, and as such it's only natural that its two most drawn out epics are stacked back to back at the end (and that the first of them has two minutes of slamdown stapled onto the start). These songs wrap up their album's quirk and taper it off into something much more developed and impressive.
LAST SCENE // TIME
Supercar's final album is nowhere near my favourite from, but the melancholic two-part combo that rounds it off is the most fitting note I could think of for them to wrap things up for good.
JIGSAW FALLING INTO PLACE // VIDEOTAPE
Videotape is such a singular, personally-centred work that in some ways it feels awkward ascribing any kind of pairing to it; perhaps the more cohesive pick from Radiohead would be Morning Bell/Motion Picture Soundtrack. The trade-off between these two tracks is still phenomenal and stands as a highlight of their discography.
|17||Secret Chiefs 3|
Book of Horizons
ANTHOPOMORPHOSIS: BOXLEITNER // WELCOME TO THE THEATRON ANIMATRONIQUE
Two spot-on tracks at the end of a bizarre, intriguing album that draw things into shape but add a renewed sense of mystery in their dramatic tone. Oh yes...
ANTHOLOGY // DISARMED
A classic case of euphoric rush followed on by a sage wrap-up track. Major/Minor is one of Thrice's weaker offerings for me, but these tracks elevate it to no end.
Talking Heads: 77
PSYCHO KILLER // PULLED UP
These two have always felt particularly satisfying to me; Psycho Killer in many ways would have been a strong closer in its own right, but Pulled Up has so much pluck and charm that the album leaves a really sweet taste on its way out.
A Thousand Leaves
SNARE, GIRL // HEATHER ANGEL
The roguest pairing here - I guess Marilyn Moore/Expessway to Yr Skull would have been an easier pick, but these two song have each hit me as unique and underrated moments within SY's massive discography and they round off A Thousand Leaves, one of their sparsest albums, on a note that I find hugely intriguing.
|13||Ling Tosite Sigure|
Just a Moment
MOMENT A RHYTHM (SHORT VERSION) // MIB126
Two tracks ambitious enough to be album centrepieces stand side-by-side and...well, this is what two album centrepieces sound like at the tail end of an album full of highlight.s
REBELLION (LIES) // IN THE BACKSEAT
In many ways In the Backseat is the perfect closer regardless of pairing, but if that's the case Rebellion (Lies) is the perfect penultimate track in how it gently winds down the album's tone while presenting a delicate highlight. This pair wins by the sum of its parts.
A Dead Sinking Story
REASONS AND OBLIVION // A WILL REMAINS IN THE ASHES
Reasons and Oblivion is basically Envy perfecting their post-rock/emo tradeoff in furiously concise fashion. A Will Remains in the Ashes is that perfection borne out to three times the length. The two are huge together.
ETERNAL // DECADES
I'm not a huge Joy Division fan, but there's no denying the phenomenal power of its closing pair. Eternal takes the album's morose tone into depths no-one could have seen coming, and then Decades follows on into legendarily epic territory. An obligatory mention.
|9||The Flaming Lips|
Clouds Taste Metallic
EVIL WILL PREVAIL // BAD DAYS
This one's a little unusual in the sense that either of these songs would have been perfectly adequate closers, and of the two it's Evil Will Prevail that stands as the true closer. One of the more underrated tracks of all time, it brings the album's bittersweet tone to a devastating finally, just before Bad Days swoops in as the perfect tongue in cheek epilogue.
NOCTURN // AERIAL
These two have to be heard to be believed. Absolutely sublime and with perfect segue (obviously! given that this is technically just the final stretch of a complete song. Army Dreamers and Breathing get a runner-up mention).
|7||The Dear Hunter|
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading
BLACK SANDY BEACHES // VITAL VESSEL VINDICATES
Bitter, backhanded and falsely optimistic, for all its pomp and performance the tail end of Act II is one of the most cogent and emotionally relatable things The Dear Hunter did in the course of the series.
The Dark Side of the Moon
BRAIN DAMAGE // ECLIPSE
This one goes without saying and has one of the most beautiful segues of any two songs. Perfect counterparts, I can't imagine listening to one without the other.
|5||Queens of the Stone Age|
I APPEAR MISSING // ...LIKE CLOCKWORK
While the rest of this album is fantastic, its heart is very much in its tail end. I Appear Missing is both a huge highlight and an earnest change of tone, and the manner in which the morose title track picks up where it left off is a real gamechanger for both the album and band.
TURNPIKE DIVIDES // STAY TRUE
When an established band releases the best track of the career in the second last slot of their final album, and then follows it with on epic farewell note, all in a way that feels entirely true to the qualities that have always marked them out, you can't help but look back at their whole career with a stronger sense of satisfaction.
SHIGATSU NO SHITAKU // HARU NATSU AKI FUYU
Not much to stay here other than that these are actually from 0 (which keeps on vanishing from the list when I try to add it), that both are among the most stunningly beautiful tracks I've heard, and that they pair together flawlessly.
|2||Cult of Luna|
Somewhere Along the Highway
DIM // DARK CITY DEAD MAN
The pairing that inspired this list. Absolutely flooring. Dim is a career highlight but is too uncharacteristically emotionally weighted to make for a true Cult of Luna closer. Dark City is set up perfectly for a home run and delivers as impressively as anyone could expect. Classic.
HONNOU // IZON-SHOU
One of the all-time greatest pop songs followed by a sensationally epic power ballad that unwinds into a extended jam. These two raise the stakes on an already perfect album and are pretty much in a league of their own.