15 Objectively Perfect Albums That Are Less Than Half an Hour Long
How about some authoritative records that could turn you onto an entire new thread of listening in half the time it takes a Papa Johns pizza to arrive?
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.
We read an article the other week about the best books that can be read in one sitting: We’re talking life-changing, perspective shifting, skull shattering stories written by authors who channeled higher states of consciousness to create works that can promptly make you rethink everything until now—books that are so concentrated you can absorb all of their historical value in one shift with six cups of tea, three packs of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and a sofa. It’s a pretty good deal, a definitive piece of art that matches the ruthless levels of impatience we all now have because: the internet etc.
It made us think: What about all the perfect albums out there that barely clock in? What about the game-changing LPs that are shorter than an episode of The Simpsons? Explosive punk masterpieces that come and go quicker than a Papa Johns delivery? The authoritative records that could turn you onto an entire new thread of listening, in the space of time it takes you to have a shower.
So, with all that in mind, we thought it would be fun to stick together a list of 15 objectively perfect albums, rated by five Noisey UK writers, that clock in at 30 minutes or less. Some you’ll have heard, some you won’t have, some you’ll have had bookmarked since nineteen dickety fuck knows, never to be heard until prompted. The common theme is this: each of these is a micro opus in its own right, and you have absolutely no excuse not to give half your lunch break to them.
Tigers Jaw by Tigers Jaw (30 mins)
For anyone whose interest in guitar-based music extends beyond Ed Sheeran sharting his pants on stage, Tigers Jaw’s self-titled album is a modern classic. Everything about it—the opening track, the pizza artwork, the fact that it established the Tigers Jaw “sound”—is iconic. The vocals are more concerned with being meaningful than hitting all the notes, the three-way harmonies are so magical they inexplicably conjure up hyper-specific memories of your ex ruining your day, and the lyrics are so casually intimate they have the feel of shouting diary entries into an empty room. In a scene where bands form and break up faster than you can say "defend pop punk" and albums have increasingly less staying power, Tigers Jaw have remained constant, and this record stands as one of the most flawlessly constructed, era-defining albums ever written. —Emma Garland
Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy by Billy Bragg (15 mins)
Fifteen minutes of earnest love and politics in an Essex accent from a man and his cheap electric guitar. Run-ins with Slam City Skates aside, Billy Bragg is for the most part the Milkman Of Human Kindness and this, his 1983 debut, is probably the sweetest album ever made. —Robert Foster
The Singles by Bikini Kill (17 mins)
To some people, picking a greatest hits compilation as your favorite record in a band’s discography can be a cop-out. But screw those guys! The best songs are the best songs, and Bikini Kill’s rips harder than any Greatest Hits in existence. I will never not take solace in the “They say she’s a dyke but I know / she is my best friend, yeah!” line from “Rebel Girl” because it makes me feel like I’m retrospectively pouring a drink down the shirt of every judgmental prick in solidarity with the rest of my wrecking crew. More than that though, in the half hour it takes to play through The Singles, there’s a lot to be learned. —Ryan Bassil
Plague Soundscapes by The Locust (21 mins)
When I was literally a snotty 12 year old, I pretended—in an attempt to win the approval of a bunch of strangers on a message board who were convinced that I was a 41-year-old trucker posing as a precious pre-teen—to be really, really into this album. I had never heard it. Thirteen years on, and now that I've actually listened to it, I love it as much as I once pretended to. It's obnoxious, brutal, whiny fucking nonsense, but the most incredible obnoxious, brutal, whiny nonsense you’ve ever heard. —Josh Baines
1983 by Flying Lotus (29 mins)
This debut record is the stellar nebula; FlyLo ground zero, from which the Flying Lotus universe came squirming out like intestines in a zombie B-movie. This is where fragmented jazz and sampled proto synth can ride with glazy-eyed rap beats deep into the experimental unknown, like an utterly baked Thelma and Louise. It’s the sound of a kid who was absorbing the culture of Stones Throw records during his label day job at the time, then kneading beats alone in the dark at his grandma’s house by night. For the listener, this is 3 AM at home with your headphones on, too baked to have gone out, too tired to focus on anything, too stuffed from your shitty takeaway to move much—when your fatigued and wandering mind just needs grabbed and taken. —Joe Zadeh
Milo goes to College by Descendents (22 mins)
Thanks to genetics, social class, and good ol’ nepotism, there’s always that one asshole in life who is a beauteous, successful high-flyer. Because that’s the ring-a-ding with those hotshot turdmen, isn’t it? Not only are they irreparably nauseating, their very existence serves as a reminder you’re the gum stuck to the bottom of their bespoke Russian calf shoes. Listening to the “You think that life is really tough when your daddy won't buy you a brand new car” line from “I’m Not a Loser” on the Descendants' Milo Goes to College is the closest I’ve ever come to stomping one of those bougie jerk-off's brains across the pavement without risking grievous bodily harm. If you haven’t heard it already and you’re, like, 13 years old, Milo Goes to College is also the gold standard for punk rock teen angst. It comes with a good message too: Milo went to college and got a PhD in Biochemistry. Suck on that Mom and Dad! —Ryan Bassil
Say Yes To Love by Perfect Pussy (29 mins)
Lindsay Zoladz described Perfect Pussy as “a hardcore band fronted by Joan of Arc: A swirling maelstrom of fire engulfs a singer who shouts with the ecstatic conviction of someone who would rather die than apologize,” and that’s about the size of it. Say Yes To Love, the band’s debut album, is as close to a sonic representation of a fight as you’ll get. The instruments, the feedback, frontperson Meredith Graves’ voice are all constantly jostling for space like charged particles in a balloon. But for something so naturally raw and explosive, it also moves carefully and thoughtfully; meditating on sex, violence, and relationships from a perspective of self-affirmation. The fact that the label ran a special pressing of the record with Graves’s menstrual blood mixed into the vinyl is a literal representation of how much of herself she gave in order to make it. In turn, you’ll get one of the most hair-raising experiences of your life in the amount of time it takes to make a spinach and feta filo pie, according to Jamie Oliver. —Emma Garland
Other Animals by Erase Errata (29 mins)
I went out and bought this one, and for a brief period, I was definitely the indiest person in North Norfolk. Other Animals is a riotous blast of a record that sounds like all the good postpunk bands I'd get into a few years later. A spindly, wiry, anxious, taught, toned, tight masterpiece. —Josh Baines
Be Your Own Pet by Be Your Own Pet (29 mins)
Like a little puppy that was taken from my life far too soon, I frequently pine for the return of Be Your Own Pet. Their debut self-titled record was released when I was 14, and it was one of my first forays into music that a) didn’t come from a Now! compilation and b) the music my parents played in the car. I didn’t understand the song title “We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol” then and still don’t, but there’s no denying it sounds fucking awesome. If you want hyperactive, fierce, well put together modern-american punk rawk, then you’d do well to return to Be Your Own Pet’s debut. I don’t think there’s been anything like it since. —Ryan Bassil
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside by Earl Sweatshirt (29 mins)
We could have put the debut Earl mixtape on here—that also clocks at only 25 minutes—but while that is the sublimely vile explosion of a teen psyche, IDLSIDGO is just straight up the greatest music he’s done to date—no questions tolerated, never mind taken. From the murky reflections of “Mantra” to the mindful clarity of “Grief”, his self-analytical philosophizing and razor-sharp recycling of the world around him make this album feel like you’re right in the chair nodding as he vents from the leather couch. As he told the Guardian in July, ”In every person you have a world of personalities and souls, a world of perspectives that you can share. You can get into anyone’s shoes.” By minute one, you're in his. —Joe Zadeh
Sleater-Kinney by Sleater-Kinney (22 mins)
It was 1994 when this dropped. Rock’s sausage party was looking decidedly vulnerable, the alternative scene was in a post-Cobain state of ennui, and the burgeoning early 90s riot grrrl scene in Olympia, Washington, had built up enough steam to start requiring some serious figureheads. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s formation as Sleater Kinney could not have entered the universe at a more perfect time, really, bellowing “I’ll show you how it feels to be dead!” as they strode in. There’s more seething angst, venom, expression and passion in here than should ever fit into 22 minutes of space time; Professor Brian Cox has investigated it for wormholes, but. —Joe Zadeh
Reign in Blood by Slayer (28 mins)
There were other thrash records knocking around in 1986—Master of Puppets and Peace Sells... happened that year, as did some stuff by Kreator and Sepultura—but most of that was still polluted with either the crooned frills and girlish squeals of cock rock and NWOBHM or the unregimented, sloppy playing of fast hardcore. Reign In Blood was the first totally pure thrash record: a targeted, ultra precise and ultra fast exercise in riffs, double kick drums, and barking. Until Reign In Blood, mainstream metal was high camp, stage props, and silly mascots. The disciplined, relentless sound, the murky, semi-abstract artwork, the fucking nasty lyrical themes (Nazi doctors and the like), and high-end Rick Rubin production made this the record that made heavy metal serious and terrifying for the squares for the first time since the early 70s. —Robert Foster
Pink Moon by Nick Drake (28 mins)
There’s never been much more of a tragic story in music than that of Nick Drake. In his time on this planet, his music sold badly, people chatted through his gigs, he recoiled from performing or promoting himself, and labels repeatedly struggled to position him, well, anywhere really. If he’d done it all today, there’s no doubt lovers of his art would have found him rapidly via the lovely meadows of the internet, and he would have been celebrated in the moment. But when Pink Moon came out in 1972—when music critics were egomaniacal guardians of an artist’s rise or fall and not just Media Studies drop outs like yours truly—the press shunned his natural aloofness, and he went untapped. Forty years later the world caught up. Pink Moon won’t have you dancing 'round the kitchen while you wait for your Pop Tarts, but if the sound of a man facing down the impenetrable black wall of doom he felt life had become piques your aerial, if you’re fascinated by the concept of an artist who traveled directly to the edge, and then jumped off said edge, then this is probably the most compelling thing you could do with the 28 minutes you were about to spend on r/showerthoughts. —Joe Zadeh
Out of Step by Minor Threat (21 mins)
By the time this record happened, Minor Threat had already used two seven-inches to make the very succinct point that launched a thousand lifestyles: that maybe spending your youth doing something other than getting wasted was a perfectly reasonable idea. Out Of Step followed things up with a more nuanced but no less immediate series of statements that navigate friendship, growing up and selling out—the overarching statement this time essentially being: “Let’s all try to not be dicks.” So, a 21-minute lesson on humanity and compassion in late adolescence, set to a catchy beat. Everyone should be issued this when they turn 17. —Robert Foster
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me by Touche Amore (20 mins)
You can actually listen to anything Touché Amoré has put out in less than half an hour, but I invite you to view their three studio albums in terms of the evolution process of three-stage Pokémon: First they reveal their form (...To The Beat of a Dead Horse), then they define themselves (Parting the Sea...), and then they take on a whole other level of power (Is Survived By). Lyrically centered around the deterioration of relationships and finding comfort in being away from home while touring, Parting the Sea... opens with a track whose title is the tilde symbol—an abbreviated mark of suspension—and from then on it snaps like a twig trying to holding back the Colorado River and sweeps you away with it. It’s their “Charmeleon” moment that really sees Touché come into their own, defining their place within modern hardcore while also revealing just how much they were capable of. —Emma Garland