I just listened to the entirety of The Decemberists “Hazards of Love” played live at SXSW, streamed on NPR. I stayed up two hours past my bedtime in order to hear it realtime. It was worth it. These people write songs with lyrics, and they kept the crowd at SXSW, who characteristically flit from concert to concert, riveted for a seventeen-song album, played in its entirety. Popular music seems to have returned to three-minute songs. Here is a glimmer of hope that it might be returning to the album format. Not every band can support an album, of course, just as not every story idea can support a novel. As some story ideas are best performed in a short story, some song ideas are best performed in a single. Some musical ideas, however, deserve an album-length treatment. Here’s hoping that the form is returning.