Campaign For A Better Next Album; Why Pacing Makes Or Breaks An Album
To be completely honest and transparent: I love ‘Bomb the Music Industry!’. They've been my favorite band for a long time, which is what makes me want to talk about this topic so badly.
‘Bomb the Music Industry!’ (which will now be shortened to BTMI) was a punk rock band that mainly consisted of the musician Jeff Rosenstock and a revolving door of different backing members. Basically, It was his project that others had some input in. From 2004 when they formed, to 2014 when they broke up, they released 5 full length albums, one mini-album, one b-sides collection, one EP, and way to many splits with other bands. The album that we’re talking about today is ‘Vacation’, an album that highlights how to pace an album.
‘Vacation’ was the last album released before BTMI broke up. The album is incredibly paced, it feels like an experience more than an album because of this.
The track list (and clear three-act structure) of the album goes like this:
- “Campaign for a Better Next Weekend”
- “Vocal Coach”
- “Everybody That You Love”
- “Sponge Board / Baby Waves”
- “The Sh#t That You Hate”
- “Hurricane Waves”
- “Sick, Later.”
- “Why, Oh Why, Oh Why? (Oh Oh Oh Oh)”
- “Can’t Complain”
- “Everybody That Loves You”
- “Sunny Place / Shady People”
- “Felt Just Like Vacation”
Now lets go through each Act on their own.
ACT I: Act one starts with ‘Campaign for A Better Next Weekend’, which kicks off the tone of the entire album. It’s a slow burn that starts with a tired and weary man deciding how to spend his day off, ending with him yelling about how he wish he’d spent it differently. It transitions perfectly into ‘Vocal Coach’, and then to ‘Everybody That You Love’. He’s growing up but hates. It sets up the story perfectly, and then Act one concludes ‘Sponge Board/ Baby Waves’, which includes a choir of “Ooooooo”’s and a slow piano. And then Act two starts.
ACT II: Act Two is the longest, as it usually is, and includes a common theme among all the songs in the Act: not being content with life. ‘The Sh#t That You Hate’, a song about becoming more mature so that maybe, maybe, he can be content with what he has. ‘Hurricane Waves’; running away from your problems even when you know you shouldn’t be doing it. ‘Why, Oh Why, Oh Why? (Oh Oh Oh Oh)’ is about how he misses when he was willfully ignorant. ‘Savers’, which closes off the second act, is about how he’s willing to save his friends lives. The mini redemption arc of the story.
ACT III: Act three is about cutting off the loose ends. If this act didn’t exist, the whole album would've felt weird when you were done. It all builds up to this. ‘Can’t Complain’ takes a quick detour to show that he’s finally content, which then launches into the loud and in your face ‘Everybody That Loves You’. It takes the quick interlude ‘Sunny Place/ Shady People’ to set-up the end of the act of the end of the album of the end of a bands recorded music. The interlude turns into a jarring synth loop with the line ‘And so what, it’s hot in Texas and worse in Arizona. I know. I’m banged up.’ This turns into the yelling of what is the bands swan song, which i’d like to take a bit of a look at.
“Felt Just Like Vacation” is the official swan song of BTMI, a band with a career spanning 8 albums and countless concerts. It takes the basics of the albums pacing and paraphrases it, putting the emphasis on the rushing through. After the song is over for the first time, you might feel a bit out of breath from how quick that 3 minutes and 38 seconds was. And just as quickly as that album started, it’s over. The looping of your records run out groove ticks through your speakers as you sit their, the (arguably) best album you've ever heard is over. But, the record is looping before the run out groove. Could it be… another song?
Post Credits: You know how in most Marvel movies, there’s a scene after the credits that keeps you in your seat just a bit longer? That’s basically what “Don’t Destroy Yourself” is. “Don’t Destroy Yourself” is behind a locked groove on the vinyl version of “Vacation” and after a long silence on the final song if you have the CD version. It’s a heartbreaking ‘Goodbye’ to everything the band had made, and is a stark contrast to the rest of the album. Vacation talks about maturing and becoming older, while this song is about how little he’s changed.
And here’s the kicker of the album: It’s not trying to tell a story. None of the things i said are because there’s a story there, no, it’s because everything is properly paced, allowing for a story to shape.
Imagine if that album opened with “Don’t Destroy Yourself”. It wouldn’t make sense, and the sense of immersion in the album is lost. Or if they put “Campaign For A Better Next Weekend” smack dab in the middle. That establishing would be gone. What i’m saying, is take any song and put it anywhere else in the album, and it doesn't work. There are 196 possible ways you could this album and none of them would work as well as the way it is.
Pacing will make or break your album if you’re not careful. BTMI had this issue before with their previous record “SCRAMBLES”, where it was a mess with pacing, but musically was awesome. But “Vacation” did pacing so well that it’s a better album that “SCRAMBLES” because of it.
The story that “Vacation” tells is one that doesn't exist. “Vacation” tells a story that only works because of it’s amazing pacing, which allows you to immerse yourself in the music. You can listen from It is a story that you hear yourself as you listen. If every album did this, every album would have that story. Immerse yourself in the music you listen to and you’ll hear that story too.