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  -  Thursday Discussion: Great Debut Albums Can Be a Curse (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2633062)

Jason Tate 02/16/12 03:55 PM

Thursday Discussion: Great Debut Albums Can Be a Curse
We like to compare things. We seem, as a society, to enjoy taking the "new" and comparing it to "the old." When a new album comes out from a highly regarded artist, it takes only seconds until the comparisons are made. Is this as good as their debut? Why doesn't this sound like their most famous album? It's virtually impossible to escape it, and the idea behind it has inspired this week's "Thursday Discussion" topic. I wanted to branch out in a new direction with this column, and I was inspired by a post I saw in an earlier thread about the weight of an artist's first "major album" being so heavy, that they end up in a career of appearing to never be able to reclaim that former magic. Many times this is despite the band continuing to release fantastic music; however, since the circumstances of their first major release created such an attachment - their subsequent releases are deemed "not as good" and sometimes dismissed in search of a new attachment from another entity.

Now, I know this sucks for a lot of artists. Yet, I guess it's better to have a burst of glory than no glory at all. I can't help wonder how they feel with each new release ... if they're chasing the ghost of what was, trying to forge a new path, or just unconsciously caught in a vicious circle. That said ... this week I wanted to pick 10 releases that defined this category for our scene. These are the 10 "major releases" that I feel the bands have been chasing ever sense. And that's not to say each of these artists hasn't released some great, great music since their seminal recording. I'm curious what you think about two things: 1) do you have any other bands/albums that you think fit into this category? If so, what are they. And 2) what do you think of this phenomenon to begin with?

So ... with that ... here's my list of the top 10 greatest "major" albums that led to the band forever chasing their "one classic wonder" album in the minds of fans and critics alike.

1) Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
NoteTell All Your Friends is a classic album in virtually every sense of the phrase. And yet through line-up changes and stylistic shifts - it's remained the band's opus. There are some that claim they've never topped it and never will, there are others that claim they've gotten close. There are some that dismissed all that came after, and others that have learned to accept the "new" Taking Back Sunday. Arguably one of the more polarizing bands in our scene ... and even their latest release, which saw the return of the original members that made this classic - we saw disappointment in it not reaching their former glory.

2) Say Anything - ... Is a Real Boy
NoteBe it from comparisons Max makes to this album during the recording of each 'new' album, to the rabid fanbase over this original release ... it seems that Say Anything will never really escape the pull this album had. Theories abound around the reasoning no Say Anything album has (arguably) crept from behind the shadow this monster left. You can't escape any Say Anything thread without this being brought up at least once.

3) Thursday - Full Collapse
NoteI'd make the argument that this band continued to evolve, morph, and release amazing after amazing album through their career. However, it seems for others the band never quite released anything near their break-through album. I'm not sure if that had to do more with the shifting of musical tastes - or the band's penchant for stylistic changes.

4) Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree
NoteI could have probably written an entire section just on TTTYG for a different group of readers; however, this was the band's major release - their breakout - and I think it ended up causing a group of fans to wish for a "return to FUtCT" sound on each of their releases after. It is one helluva pop-punk album. And to think there was a time when people argued with me about if the band was going to see mainstream success or not. Haha.

5) Mae - The Everglow
NoteI can't think of many albums more widely heralded after their release as an instant classic on our website. It seemed everywhere I turned people were talking about this album. Maybe that was Slade's fault? Anyway - it definitely led to a situation where the band just couldn't live up to the huge expectations of this musical fairy-tale.

6) Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
NoteWhen a band sees massive mainstream success with an album and then changes up their sound a little bit - backlash is usually next. Yellowcard have released some great albums since Ocean Avenue, and are kind of the odd man out on this list because the comments that people used to scream, like "go back to the Ocean Avenue sound" are largely gone. I'm sure they still get it on tour ... but the band's hiatus and return seems to have sort of re-shifted the conversation.

7) Underoath - They're Only Chasing Safety
NoteIt's strange for me that this band has had a variety of musical changes over the years, and yet this is the album that a big portion of the community want them to go back to. I'm totally in the minority, it seems, when I say their releases after this one packed more of a bunch, and I enjoyed them more -- however, it seems like this album's "classic nostalgia" appeal has led to a large group believing they'll never live up to their former glory.

8) All Time Low - Put Up or Shut Up
NoteYou hear the chants during Every. Single. Release. Not only are people claiming the band "will explode this time" (they're already pretty damn big), but you see people wanting the band, desperately to record an album like this again. I had to include it on here just because I'm tired of seeing the posts.

9) Cartel - Chroma
NoteMaybe one of the greatest pop-rock debuts in recent memory. Even with the band's recent 'return to form' - there seems to be an overarching feel in the forums that the band will never fully capture the magic from their first release. I will say there was something special about that release ... but I think their last two releases have been better than most heralded pop-punk albums from "new" bands that seem to be getting more praise/press.

10) The Used - Self-Titled
NoteGetting popular with the "screamo" wave - it seems that for long time fans, the band will never quite live up to "Taste of Ink" and the band's self-titled release. They're about to release their next album ... and the first single is getting some praise. I'm curious to see what happens with the new release. If all the old fans have moved on and a new wave is not as interested in "the past" or if they've truly captured something new again.

Alex DiVincenzo 02/16/12 03:57 PM

Hawthorne Heights - The Silence In Black And White
The Ataris - So Long Astoria
Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler

Still dig all three of these bands, though.

FallOutBoyPunch 02/16/12 03:58 PM

Another one that gets posted about alot, (and I agree with) is The Academy Is... with "Almost Here."

Adam Pfleider 02/16/12 03:59 PM

the fact that people still don't recognize everything after TOCS as UnderOath's best blows my mind.

Jason Tate 02/16/12 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by Alex DiVincenzo (Post 103174312)
Hawthorne Heights - The Silence In Black And White
The Ataris - So Long Astoria
Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler

Sum 41 album for sure.

Maybe Simple Plan's debut as well.

Cursive's Ugly Organ to some degree. Same with Bright Eyes (although there seems to be less consensus on which album).

t.web4 02/16/12 04:00 PM

Take This to Your Grave for me, not From Under the Cork Tree.

Edit: I also agree with Say Anything and Taking Back Sunday, but I really enjoyed both of their sophomore albums.

boomer08 02/16/12 04:00 PM

Bullet for My Valentine

Jason Tate 02/16/12 04:00 PM


Originally Posted by FallOutBoyPunch (Post 103174402)
Another one that gets posted about alot, (and I agree with) is The Academy Is... with "Almost Here."

Forgot that one -- would definitely fit.

I want to do a list one day of the albums from bands that are known for one album - that actually have an album I think is better. Motion City Soundtrack, for example.

Ryan Dennehy 02/16/12 04:01 PM

Set Your Goals- Mutiny!
I heard TWBTDOU first, but I hardly ever returned to that after I heard the earnest energy in Mutiny. I've had friends describe the album as "life-changing" and while I certainly don't agree with that statement, this album blows everything else they've done out of the water.

Weezer - Pinkerton/Blue Album
Everyone knows about this. They haven't departed from the 'sound' so much as they've departed from the actual depth in the music. Every time they announce a new album (which is about twice a year) I get excited, only to be let down again. Maybe I should just give up.

Jack's Mannequin - Everything in Transit
A pop masterpiece, and as much as I like TGP and P&T, neither of them stack up to the greatness that is this album. I can absolutely see why Andrew is thinking about hanging up the Jack's moniker, I wouldn't want to have to try to live up to this release either.

Editing in some reasons.

schmalz 02/16/12 04:02 PM

The starting line - say it like you mean it
Arctic monkeys - whatever people say I am I'm not

FallOutBoyPunch 02/16/12 04:02 PM

OH, and Saves the Day with either Stay What You Are or Through Being Cool. Either one works.

sh14b 02/16/12 04:03 PM

Couldn't agree more with TAI - Almost here. Loved that album and nothing else they've done has really grabbed me in the same way.

notmrblond234 02/16/12 04:03 PM

I strongly disagree about 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.

zachff 02/16/12 04:03 PM

Living in Chicago TTTYG is where it all began for me.

That's all I have to add.

*Ro' 02/16/12 04:04 PM

There was a great similar thread on the forums.

A lot of people are gonna mention records that really aren't debut albums though (like The Ataris above me, or Relient K, Rise Against...).