NME Recommends: need for speed – the best albums under 30 minutes

NME writers on their favourite records that keep it short and sweet

We’ve all been there: you think you’re on the penultimate song of a new album, only to check the tracklisting to realise you’ve still got…35 minutes left.

Sometimes these sagas are brilliant! Lana Del Rey’s ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ is 67-minutes of soft rock joy, Kamasi Washington’s 172-minute ‘The Epic’ lives up to its name, and The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ is an ambitious, 2-hour journey more than deserving of the praised heaped on it.

But sometimes you just want something short and sweet: a musical adrenaline rush that sacks off lengthy introductions, interludes or bonus tracks, and instead gives you pure unadulterated bangers.

Fancy blasting an album that’s the same length as an album of The Simpsons (*with adverts)? Here NME writers go deep on their favourite albums under 30-minutes.

 

Joyce Manor

‘Joyce Manor’

Not content with just falling short of the 30 minute barrier, the debut album from California’s Joyce Manor squeezes in at under 20. Nothing is skimped on or left out here, though – their self-titled record from 2013 packs in more melody, rage and brilliance in its 18 minutes than most 45-minute full-lengths manage. Ten tracks of the best, most frantic punk rock around, punctuated by scream-along-worthy lyrics and drum beats to batter your knees along to. A thunderous shot to the arm.
Will Richards
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music

The Beatles

‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Here’s a small truth – the third album from The Fab Four actually clocks in just ten seconds over the 30 minutes needed to qualify for this piece; but when those preceding thirty minutes are some of the most joyous ever committed to record, it’d be a sin not to include it. From the unmistakable guitar twang that opens the record, all the way through to the earnestness of ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, it’s a perfect reflection of how Beatlemania changed the world forever. Oh, and if you’re looking for an instant mood-lifter, then the film is equally brilliant too. Standing the test of time, they are perfect snapshots of a time when John, Paul, George and Ringo ruled the world.
Nick Reilly
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music

The Ramones

‘Ramones’

The Ramones were here for a good time, not a long time. The NYC punks’ career pretty much played out in less than four years – from their 1976 debut through to the underrated Phil Spector-produced 1980 album ‘End Of The Century’. On this collection – recorded in under a week and often topping 160BPM – the foursome resisted throttling each other long enough to smash out this 29-minute epic, playing fast and loose with the rules of rock. Full of heartbreak, violence, glue-sniffing and Nazis – by the time you’ve got around the pained vocals, overbearing guitars and stinking attitude, they’ve already kicked you in the balls and run away. Pinched your wallet, too.
Thomas Smith
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music

Green Day

‘Father Of All…’

At 10 tracks and little over 25 minutes long, there’s no time for any existential angst on Green Day‘s latest effort. “Hurry up ’cause I’m making a fuss,” spits Billie Joe Armstrong on the record’s titular opener, “fingers up ’cause there’s no one to trust”. That’s the record’s M.O. It’s a quick-fire, breakneck rush of garage rock fun. Their intent is laid bare when comparing two of the band’s record sleeves: ‘American Idiot’ was a heart like a hand grenade, ‘Father Of All’ is a unicorn puking a rainbow. Don’t try to make sense of it, just enjoy.
Andrew Trendell
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music

Little Richard

‘Here’s Little Richard’

People keep telling me to peel myself off the sofa and do dishy fitness guru Joe Wicks’ 30-minute YouTube work-out to stave off the lockdown blues, but I’ll stick to jiving around the living room to Little Richard’s earth-shattering 1957 debut album, thanks very much. In 28 minutes and 30 seconds the king and queen of rock’n’roll changed popular culture forever, banging out songs about bumming (‘Tutti Frutti’) and declaring his heartfelt intention to piss his money up the wall and have a good time no matter what (‘Rip It Up’). Stick that up your toned, lovely arse, Joe Wicks.
Jordan Bassett
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music

Teyana Taylor

‘K.T.S.E.’

If you ask me, no album really needs to be over half an hour long. Maybe I just have the attention span of a goldfish; but does anybody really want a 16-song epic where you end up skipping half the tracks? Take Teyana Taylor’s glorious second album ‘K.T.S.E.’. Produced by Kanye West as part of his Wyoming Sessions, over the course of eight songs it goes from sultry yearning (‘Gonna Love Me’) to glossy gospel-coated R&B (‘Never Would Have Made It’), finally finishing with euphoric house smasher ‘WTP’. Each song is bolstered by Taylor’s silky vocals and West’s glitching beats, and the results are 23-minutes of pure joy – no bonus tracks needed.
Hannah Mylrea
Listen: Spotify | Apple Music