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“I like their first album, but…”
First albums, are they actually as great as people think? or is it just pure nostalgia?
This is something that has been bothering me for years. Time and time again I have discussions with people about band’s new records. The band releases their new record, a few days go by for people to digest what they heard and what the band were trying to accomplish, and then the opinions start to spew out of people’s mouths. It’s becoming the most predictable thing that I expect to hear when talking about new records with people. The response is likely “It’s not as good as their first album” or “It’s alright, but their first album is so much better”. This kind of thing happens daily in album reviews that I read. Go check out some music magazine sites and you’ll clearly see this trend…trust me.
I can recall when The Verve got back together and released their highly anticipated record Forth in 2008 after a decade of being broken up. The reviews were pretty similar, praising the band for coming out with a new album and not just being another band reforming to do a tour and make money.
However, something that kept appearing in nearly every review was that it was great how there were similarities to their first record, A Storm In Heaven. A Storm In Heaven, a great record without question, but let’s be honest, the musicianship in each record after was a solid and natural progression. Here is a link to a review I pulled randomly referencing how the band should basically be proud that their album sounds like their early stuff. http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-the-verve-forth2/
Another band that I have only recently become a fan of because I thought their first record was shit is The Strokes. When I first heard Last Nite from the bands Is This It record, i basically cringed. I thought what I was hearing was a joke, but obviously it was a song and a record that was resonating well with a lot of people. When I heard the first single Under Cover Of Darkness from the band’s newest album Angles, I was intrigued. Is this the same band that I heard from 2001?. I couldn’t believe it. The musicianship was outstanding, the guitar arrangements were a lot more technical and the song overall was just, better. With this newly-found appreciation for The Strokes, I obviously found myself discussing the band for the first time in years since I was blasting Is This It a decade ago. Without a surprise, what I was hearing was “their old stuff is way better”, “This is shit compared to their first record”, “They have fallen from form” and the negative responses went on and on and on. I kept asking myself, “seriously, are these people listening to this record at all? or are they just judging it based on the band’s previous releases?”.
A band that I receive constant judgement for being a fan of is silverchair. The response is always “aren’t those guys like 15?, what is that song, tomorrow?”. But that isn’t the point i’m trying to get across in this post. The band’s first album Frogstomp was extremely commercial selling millions of copies, but since then they have put out 4 records that have steadily gotten better and better to their most recent effort Young Modern. What I hear a lot of when discussing the band is “I love their first record, but everything since is shit”. My response again is, “really? Have you actually listened to that record?”. The band themselves would be the first to tell you that Frogstomp is a shit record. But to most people it seems to be a nostalgia thing and it reminds them of a time of their life where that album meant a lot to them and nothing can ever surpass that.
There are exceptions to the rule of course. The Stone Roses first album, The Stone Roses, is without a doubt their best record. Granted they only released 2 LP’s before their infamous split, but it’s a timeless classic that anyone can listen to today and could easily be mistaken as a new record to a different generation of people. Listen to it, chances are you won’t disagree.
There are so many more examples, but in the interest of time i’ll end it here.
I can’t help wondering, is a band’s first album really better? or are people just being unnecessarily nostalgic and remembering a time in their life that the band’s first album meant a lot to them and anything that comes after that has a slight change in sound will never be as good?