Question of the Day: The Dreaded Return Album?

on May 08, 2012, 12:13pm

questionoftheday1 Question of the Day: The Dreaded Return Album?

In the music business, the debut and sophomore albums illicit equal levels of hope and dread. But there’s another phase in a band’s album-releasing career that deserves similar attention: the return album. After years away from the spotlight, a group triumphantly once more enters the studio in order to captivate fans with a renewed sense of musical enthusiasm. In recent months, everyone from No Doubt to My Bloody Valentine have announced the forthcoming fruits of such efforts.

How do you, as a fan, approach the release of these efforts? Do you eagerly anticipate them, or feel an unending sense of doom? How do your expectations of the band change or adjust at all? By that, are you willing to be harsher or less harsh in your critiques depending upon how long you’ve waited? Lastly, do you worry at all about how the new LP will impact your thoughts on their back catalog?

Leave your comments below. You can also tweet us @coslive with the hashtag #CoSQotD or post something on our Facebook page.


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May 9, 2012 at 1:47 am

I’m not as nervous about return albums as I am return tours. How many new songs are they going to play? Which classic tracks will they ditch in favor of new material? For instance I saw My Morning Jacket and they pretty much played their entire Circuital album…it was horrible.

That being said there are some bands I feel that were meant to make one or two great albums and that’s it. Neutral Milk Hotel or DFA1979 for instance. Have made impeccable albums that would be next to impossible to capture that same brilliance. I hope to see both of these groups active again in my lifetime, but I hope they never record again.

Rory Biller
May 12, 2012 at 12:04 am

DFA 1979 needs to get on that. That record still sounds fresh 7 years later.

May 9, 2012 at 12:33 am

Dinosaur Jr did this successfully, I don’t see why other bands couldn’t.

Rory Biller
May 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm

The return album almost always sucks.

With that said there are certain bands that can pull it off.

Fingers crossed that The Pixies still do one.

May 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Feeding on what OnaFriday said … Maybe we place to high of a standard on our heroes. Bands like Sigur Ros, Animal Collective et al are all just as human us, and can only push boundaries so far. We love to make them into myths that nobody could ever live up to.

May 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

the most unfortunate thing about a “return” album is that it is inherently a no-win situation for the band.  If a band that has been on hiatus – or what not – returns with an album that is too similar to their previous work, then they get slammed for churning out a regurgitation of a formula that worked for them once upon a time, and are said to lack anything real to contribute or are arrested in their musical and artistic develpment.  If they do not produce something similar to the sound that won over their fans in the first place, then they run the risk of disappointing/alienating the people looking forward to the new release by not living up to their expectations.  I would almost rather a band choose a new moniker after a certain amount of time so that their previous work can live on untarnished by more recent efforts that are at best different, and at worst lackluster and heartbreaking (I’m looking at you Gang of Four, Smashing Pumpkins, Public Image ltd., et cetera).  The fact is though, that for any band – returning or not – it is difficult to stay relevant in a music scene that is so capricious and transitory; you can either make the music you want to make and hope that the quality of your art and the level of your artistry transcends the fickle attitudes of scenesters (Radiohead), or become a genre-whoring idea bandit with no real creativity to speak of (Madonna, sorry… but it’s true, and has been for the better part of twenty years).  The alternative is to be like so many bands these days that squeeze out an album of car-commercial friendly jingles and then fade into the ever-growing background scenery of one-hit blunders.

May 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Sigur Ros – Valtari… one of my all time favorite bands but scared it won’t live up to my high expectations…  Theyve been working on it so long, could be phenomenal or a flop

May 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm

It depends on the scenario.  I think a good example where I wasn’t nervous for the reunion was blink-182.  Mainly because they were all still highly active musicians during the break. Though because of that, I was also more critical of the new album.  The Beach Boys on the other hand did nothing for me even though they were my first and still one of my favorite bands.  They are old as fuck and can hardly breath let alone sing.  Don’t get me wrong, they don’t sound bad.  They actually sound decent, but it’s still slightly depressing.  Brian Wilson looks like Wilford Brimley sans the hat and beard (so really just a diabetes patient).  

Allison S
May 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

The return album I am anticipating is the Ben Folds Five record. And words cannot describe how happy I am that my favorite band from the beginning of my indie life is getting back together. Touring, writing, etc. That being said, I am trying as hard as possible to remember that they’re 12 years older, their voices are, and they’re middle aged men now, not late 20somethings (which is what I am) and that it may not correlate to my life as much. And they have a crap ton more money. I’m just happy about the fact they’re together. So long as those classic Sledge and Jessee harmonies are in there and Folds’ voice isn’t over powering the mix I’ll take it. It’s better than nothing! But, I would be remiss to not mention the fact that I am worried about it. Even though Do It Anyway was decent. I can’t compare it to Selfless, Cold and Composed, for example, because that’s simply not fair. Sky High sounds promising. 


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