Storytelling is an intrinsic aspect of human nature; whether it’s from grandpa before bedtime, a flickering television screen or your favorite novel, stories are entertaining, enlightening and thought-provoking. Yet, the album is overlooked as a medium of storytelling. Mainstream pop music has grown too fond of the notion that albums should be a 30 to 60-minute-long collection of singles. Concept albums are the opposite: Songs often bleed into one another, presenting the audience with characters, situations, revelations and resolutions.

Journeying through the entire album, if you have the attention span, is extremely rewarding to the listener. An hour with music is arguably less arduous than burning through a novel or binge-watching an entire season of “Breaking Bad.” You probably recognize some of the more notable concept albums; Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon,” The Who’s “Tommy,” Green Day’s “American Idiot” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer” all contain a unifying storyline or theme expressed through each song. Hopefully I can convince you to dabble with the full-album experience. The endeavor is not for everyone, yet who said there was ever anything to lose when exploring new music?

I want to take this opportunity to shine some light on two of my favorite concept albums. First, The Antlers’ “Hospice”: indie rock that explores a relationship between “The Narrator” and “Sylvia,” his girlfriend who is slowly dying from bone cancer. Yes, the album is heart-wrenching and depressing, but with true emotional depth comes beauty.

It begins with a prologue, leading into “Kettering,” the moment when the narrator first witnesses Sylvia on the hospital bed. A fierce argument takes place during the song “Sylvia” and hopeless fantasies are expressed during “Two.” By the ninth track, “Wake,” Sylvia has quietly passed away and the narrator’s future is discussed during the bleak “Epilogue.”

The music hardly strays from the fuzzy, down-tempo rock that incorporates acoustic guitars, dreamy synth melodies and simple, yet effective drums. Vocalist Pete Silberman’s wavering voice perfectly suits the frequent moments of soaring melody and soft reflection. With “Hospice,” both the storyline and the music complement each other, forming a cohesive statement that many consider to be a masterpiece.

Concept albums are not strictly defined as having a storyline – songs can be united by common themes or musical motifs. Take for example another one of my favorites, The Dear Hunter’s “The Color Spectrum.” This 36-song collection was gradually released through nine EPs, each meant to emulate the “sound” of the color it is named after.

The lofty effort begins with “Black,” featuring songs that are rough, bitter and almost evil in nature. “Red” turns darkness into rage, accompanied by driving tempos and whining guitars. The anger quickly subsides and is contrasted by the bright, sunny pop of “Yellow” and the riff-oriented rock of “Orange.” A lush, folk landscape is explored in “Green,” while “Indigo” and “Violet” draw from a techno/synth-oriented sound. The collection ends peacefully with “White,” based on grand-piano leads and lyrics that contemplate what the afterlife might hold. Fans of any genre can find something to love within the sprawling “Color Spectrum” – yet another example of a unique concept album.

One of the takeaway messages here is that music can be so much more than a catchy, three-minute hit. The radio caters to this format and many artists have restricted themselves to accommodate it. Keep an open mind, don’t be afraid to journey out of your comfort zone and let a concept album speak for itself. An hour of your time may just stick with you for much longer.

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