by Saiba Haque, Deputy Food Editor (The Croft)
Saiba provides her insight into how she listens to albums and reveals some of her favourite intro tracks from amazing albums to inspire a fresh perspective on your album listening experience.
As an avid listener of albums, I obviously have my favourites. In order to compile my favourite albums, there are many aspects that I take into consideration. To me a key component in deciding whether an album is perfect or near-perfect is the way that it starts.
This is not to say that if an intro track sounds mind-shatteringly amazing that the album is necessarily amazing by default. However, I am also of the belief that all amazing albums should most definitely contribute towards a significant impact on listeners. The Intro track provides a setup for the tone of the album. Sometimes it can indicate what listeners are to expect from the rest of the album.
There are many aspects to keep in mind when listening to intro tracks, as there is a wide range of ways to start an album (as you will find out). Some intro tracks start more dramatic, explosive or often even theatrical. Others may start off more sombre, thematic or melancholic. Some are just iconic.
To be clear: I am not trying to dictate your taste in music, but rather to encourage more full listening of albums. As I am unable to write in-depth about every single intro track that I adore, I have curated a playlist for my favourite intro tracks, which can be found at the end of this article. So even if you may not be the most avid listener of albums, I’m hoping for some of these intro tracks to inspire you to pursue listening to albums with intent.
With that in mind, here are some of my favourite opening tracks that contribute to a great album-listening experience:
To Pimp A Butterfly
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
How can I even begin to explain the genius elements of this opening? The production of this track is truly impeccable. The masterful lyricism, the afro-futuristic funk and synth sound, the sampling, the interlude, the callout to Wesley Snipes; Everything about this opening is perfect and thematically cohesive with the rest of the album.
Artist: New Order
Written by Joy division, but released commercially as New order’s debut single in 1981. This track is not only an enigmatic and hopeful start to New order’s album but also serves as a perfect bridge between their previous life as Joy Division and the future that they were stepping into following the tragic passing of Ian Curtis. Although the song has heavy undertones of uncertainty, it also has contrasting elements of hope, which are illustrated majestically throughout the song. The track not only is one of the best intro tracks but is also a track signifying hope and rebirth to the band.
Artist: Phoebe Bridgers
This brooding, cinematic intro track almost invites a sense of uneasiness upon listening. It reminds the listeners that the album they are about to listen to will likely break them. Impressively so, variations of the violin melody from this track are trickled throughout the album, and make a very strong return towards the harrowing end of the final song “I Know the End”. It also transitions into ‘Garden Song” ever so smoothly.
Hurry up, We’re dreaming
If you want to go through feeling every single emotion rushing through you all at once as you ponder in your thoughts at night, then this is that opening track. That’s it, that’s my take, use it wisely.
‘Just a Feeling’
Artist: The Marias
This opening track sounds like what it would feel like to get lost in a dream. The beautiful instrumental prelude truly captures the essence of surrealism and yet it brings in a sense of ease and comfort. It’s the calm before the chaos of the second track, and also ties in well thematically throughout the album.
Artist: Tyler, the creator
The production of this tune (and album) is just insanely good! This intro encapsulates exactly what’s in store for the rest of the album, both instrumentally and lyrically. The track is unapologetically experimental with its distorted synth and interesting placements of choir singing.
‘Running Up That Hill’
Hounds of Love
Artist: Kate Bush
Over the years this song has re-emerged (more than once) to introduce itself to younger audiences; As it should! This intro is absolutely iconic with its strong and stark lyricism and themes of questioning the existence of God. Near the bridge, the song crescendo’s with chaos and Bush’s Vocals remaining vigorous as ever.
'Gospel For A New Century'
Heaven To A Tortured Mind
Artist: Yves Tumor
Tumor starts off this album with a theatrically ominous and disjointed Horns and Drums sample, followed by the sound of a rock anthem. The production of the song and the enigmatic title can illustrate themes of apocalypse or rebirth, where the lyrics demonstrate themes of a broken relationship, all of which translate well throughout the album.
Artist: Arcade Fire
The song perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to have to come back home and feel like it’s no longer the town you knew growing up. The haunting lyricism along with the sinister production/sound of the track indicates a sense of how old memories can come back to haunt you. The tracks flow very well consecutively and the melody of the intro returns eerily at the end of the album as well.
Songs of Her’s
Before I inevitably tell people that all members of this band passed away in a tragic car accident, I introduce them to this intro track to get them hooked. This Song is such a beautifully produced dreamy, nostalgic, indie-pop tune, with haunting vocals along with the underlying themes of longing and yearning a theme sprinkled throughout the album, which continues to be absolutely brilliant .
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Artist: Little Simz
Some may feel divisive about the production of this track. I beg to differ; It consists of the perfect balance of orchestral theatricality and playful sampling along with strong lyricism and storytelling. The track perfectly encapsulates Simz’s internal struggles and her astute observations of the world falling apart around her, whilst building tension with its drums and horns instrumental throughout the song.
Artist: Japanese Breakfast
Unlike some of my other favourite intro tracks, this one encapsulates pure, unadulterated joy. From the production to lyricism, this track blurs the line between fantasy and reality. It illustrates how Michele Zauner connects with people through her artistic endeavours. The joy and euphoria of being able to encapsulate this feeling is reflected remarkably throughout the song. (Fun fact, this Song was inspired by Satoshi Kon’s surreal Film, Paprika).
Listen to all these great into tracks and many more on my "Best Ways To Start An Album" playlist here:
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