You will all excuse me if I spend a few moments taking issue with one of the more outlandish things Klosterman said in this review.
I think we still have a long way to go before we've seen the end of The Album. Yes, things are trending away from The Album as the dominant popular music form, but Klosterman saying that Chinese Democracy will be the last "group of songs" to ever be marketed as an album sounds absolutely absurd, and strikes me more as a kind of nostalgic reverie for a lost hard-rock heyday than as an even vaguely accurate forecast. Why, exactly, does he believe this? I think Lil' Wayne would be surprised to hear that Tha Carter 4 is apparantly doomed to failure if he tries to market it as an album, like he did with his wildly successful Tha Carter 3 this year. In fact, I think everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Bob Dylan to Jay-Z to R Kelly to the people trying to market any Broadway (or High School Musical) soundtrack, would be surprised to learn that, with the latest release from Axl Rose of all people, the Album can officially be declared dead. That's just absurd. I know that Tex (in the comments section of Via Chicago's post) was focusing more on Klosterman's idea that Chinese Democracy will somehow be the last album to matter as a physical object like a CD...and while I could try taking issue with that as well (there are lots of huge Lil' Wayne fans out there who I'm sure just love holding the physical object in their hands and spending hours upon hours staring at the tatooed baby on the cover) I think it's kind of beside the point. Why is a CD so essentially different from a collection of sound files? Would you be content with the physical CD WITHOUT being able to play the sound files encoded thereon? Of course not- so how does it make sense to say a given album matters "more" as a physical object than as sound files? Does Sgt. Pepper matter more as a physical object than as a collection of songs? Sure they included some fancy cover art, but essentially nobody would prefer the art over the music. Certainly we of the Kittybrains Collective all listen to the great "Albums" of the past on MP3 now, right? What the hell's the difference?
And even if the long term forecast is indeed trending towards something other than The Album, we're not there yet, and I will go out on a limb and say that there WILL be albums qua albums to be released and marketed after Chinese Democracy. Among the first will be 808's and Heartbreak, the new Kanye West album. After that...I hear Fall Out Boy has a new album due in December. I'm ready to predict it will sell respectably well.