sophomore slump or comeback of the year?

When I took my dog out today, a song I hadn’t heard in ages came up on my Zune (yes, I have a Zune. Please reserve judgment): “Whistle For the Choir” by The Fratellis. As I walked among the orange-red leaves, I thought about how much I loved this song, and this band, when I first heard them in London in early 2007.

I dare you to resist the charms of “Chelsea Dagger,” an infectious, boot-stomping romp of a rock tune:

The point is, while I still unabashedly love The Fratellis’s first album, Costello Music, I never really gave them a chance after that. I bought their second effort, Here We Stand, listened to it once or twice, and promptly forgot about it.

I know I’m not alone in favoring a beloved band’s first release, but I’m guilty of doing it over and over again. I thought today about all the artists, especially my beloved Brits, that I abandoned post-debut: The Fratellis, Lily Allen, The Kooks. There are certainly more, but these are the ones that stand out most. Today begins my quest to right this wrong, and give these artists’ sophomore albums another try.

Well, maybe not tonight. I have a wedding to attend.

3 responses to “sophomore slump or comeback of the year?

  1. For whatever reason, I have the opposite reaction to sophomore albums. I’m fascinated by them. When I look at my favorite bands/artists, their second albums are almost always my favorite: Cake’s Fashion Nugget, Third Eye Blind’s Blue, Butch Walker’s Letters, Say Anything’s In Defense of the Genre, Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape, Weezer’s Pinkerton (well, OK, we’ll call that one a tie between Pinkerton and the blue album), Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare, Incubus’s Make Yourself (if you start counting at S.C.I.E.N.C.E, which I do), Eve 6’s Horrorscope, I could go on.

    I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that a lot of bands probably hone their craft, get more comfortable with writing music together, and produce a second album that is… well… better than the first, if there’s any way to measure such a thing objectively. The second reason, and probably the more important one, is that I’m not a musician. I don’t play an instrument. I can’t read music. I enjoy listening to music, but I don’t really know anything about it. So I usually focus on the lyrical/narrative content of the songs, and I’m less interested in the music itself than in what inspired the music to be written. So I like to see how a band reacts to the success of a debut album, and what their response sounds like.

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