Anticipation is a hell of a drug. Music consumers in the olden days (say, pre-Internet takeover) knew well that sensation of delicious agony following the announcement that your favorite band had hit the studio. Release dates meant something - they marked a date on a calendar and circled it in red, allowing excitement and dread to build and build until, finally, that day came. Whether you wheedled and begged your mom to drive you to the nearest Virgin last Tuesday or simply sat back and smugly awaited the mailman's approach before greedily tearing into your prize's cardboard prison, half the fun of listening to a new album was the waiting and wondering, the speculation and bold assertions that this one was going to rule - or, no, that one's totally going to blow dogs for quarters, man! Nowadays, we've become accustomed to a constant stream of content - new albums every year, an EP every six months, a tour-only 7" here, a digital compilation there, all stuffed down the feeding tube and shoehorned into our RSS feeds. As soon as an album leaves its creator's hands and lands in some blogger's inbox, the seal is broken, and it's only a matter of time before any Joe Blogspot can pirate the ever-loving shit out of it and render it nearly worthless. The wait is over; it never really had a chance to begin. Music has become less of a commodity and more of an expectation. When a band chooses to buck the system and follow their own goddamn pace thank you very much, their fans are given a taste of that old familiar ache, and unless we're talking a washed-up eighties buttrock reunion album or a flaccid slice of warmed-over nu metal, odds are it's going to taste that much sweeter once they're finally able to sink their fangs into Track 1.
There have been plenty of good records released in the past few years; hell, even the earliest stages of 2012 have already provided a glut of decent tunes, and we're barely past February. Out of all those good albums, though, only a few will ever be great. The cream rises to the top, and as time goes by, it's got more and more leagues of slop to slither its way through. Bands need to take a chill pill. Stop and smell the roses. Make that riff really sing.
Take yer time. Make it count. Some of us are willing to wait.