A long distance relationship combined with a full-time job leads to an awful lot of night drives, and an awful lot of albums spun whilst cruising the motorways of the country.
One thing that's become very clear in all of this is that there are day albums, and there are night albums. Really, though, a day album is just a default term, something that picks up nothing when you listen to it after dark. Darkness is always where the action lies.
I'm not just talking about albums that are enjoyable after sunset - I wouldn't trust any album that didn't work that way. I'm talking about the albums that undergo some alchemical change once the stars are out; that sound indefinably different on the open road with dusk just a memory.
Below are my five best examples of this process in action. I've deliberately avoided nominating anything by The Cure, because that would be entirely too easy.
1. British Sea Power, "The Decline of British Sea Power"
The album that brought enlightenment, revealing the existence of night albums in all their unsettling glory. During the day, the production on this album seems strangely off-kilter. At night, it sounds like every song is being played out on the moors. Listen to this atop the hills of Yorkshire on a foggy winter night, and you won't reach your destination with your brain in the same shape as when you left.
Nightiest track: "Fear of Drowning."
2. Brand New, "Daisy"
Brand New had already gotten some way into the dark with their third album, "The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me", but "Daisy" is a step beyond. Listen to this in your lunch break, and it's an angry squall of screaming men and violent guitars. Out on the starlit road, it's the sound of furious ghosts calling to you from your back seat. Even the fox gets scarier.
Nightiest track: "Gasoline".
3. Angelo Badalamenti, "Twin Peaks Soundtrack"
There's plenty of soundtracks that work best at night, of course, since the link between music and scene is something they're designed to do. That said, Badalamenti manages something no other composer has in my experience, which is to swirl together every aspect of the night; the fear, the beauty and the calmness, not just between pieces but within them. This worked wonders when combined with Lynch's tendency to do similar things with dialogue and direction, but even out of that context, there's nothing else like it.
Nightiest track: "Falling".
4. We Were Promised Jetpacks, "These Four Walls"
The night album on this list I most often play in the daytime, because it's fascinating and exhilarating whenever you put it on. Once the sun goes down, though, the album lurches into new territory. Like "Decline...", much of the work here is being done by the soundscapes, expansive, lonely places that unfold best when you're stuck out in the middle of nowhere yourself - and almost any road at night is the middle of nowhere. There's a consistency of purpose here though that outstrips the shambolic (and I mean that in the best possible way) "Decline...", though; a sense not just of night but a specific place, specifically the unwelcoming beauty of Scottish backwaters.
Nightiest track: "Conductor."
5. R.E.M. "New Adventures in Hi-Fi"
It took me years to appreciate this album properly. It's still far from my favourite joint from Stipey and the boys, but it rose significantly in my affections when I realised it's their only night album, and can't be. Once out on the road under a full moon, songs like "Undertow" and "Bittersweet Me" no longer seem crass and bitter, but urgent; they're claustrophobia no longer oppressive but a counterpoint to the night landscape. For a long time I thought "Electrolite" was the only true gem on the whole thing, but now I realise my mistake. "Electrolite" is the dawn at the end of a bad night, and without the night before, the new day wouldn't have any meaning at all.
Nightiest track: "Leave".
That's my five nominations, then. Any suggestions of your own? Leave 'em in comments. Also, a shiny penny for anyone who can recognise the title quote (sans Google, natch). I'll give you a clue, it's from a '90s LP which no-one in their right mind could possibly consider a night album.