I. The Follow-Up Album

Originally posted at A List of Grievances on April 17, 2010.

I hate it when musicians release a new album and it’s not as good as the last one. Like they decide in the studio that whatever they were doing before – which other peopleactually liked; I know, weird – was crap and it’s time to go back to the drawing board and eliminate everything that was awesome about the last album.

OK Go seem to be experiencing this phenomenon right now. I loved their debut, and their second album Oh No is pretty awesome, even if the sound is slightly different. It’s still them. But then they released Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, and I am disappoint, son. It’s weird and instrumental and experimental. It doesn’t have the same fun vibe the past two albums had. It sounds like pretentious douchebag art-rock. (I reserve “art-rock” for special cases. It’s practically an insult; at least it’s an insult when so-called “critics” [and I guess you could lump me into this category as well] try to pin it to my beloved Muse.)

Also, OK Go: You are not British. Please, for the love of innocent baby Jesus, stop spelling things in American English with your silly extra “u”s and replacing “z”s with “s”s. You are not T. S. Eliot, and I don’t even like it when he does that. (You can take the boy out of St. Louis, but you can’t take the St. Louis out of the boy.) Now, I realize that OTBCOTS takes its name from a book (The Influence of the Blue Ray of the Sunlight and of the Blue Colour of the Sky, “a pseudoscientific book published in 1876,” according to Wikipedia) and thus the band cannot be responsible for the spelling of the word “color.”

Now I’m not so much concerned about the spelling of “color” as I am by the fact that the band decided it was a good idea to base the “name, lyrics, and concept” of the album off of a “pseudoscientific” book. Do they haveany idea whatsoever about how highbrow and pretentious that sounds? It’s not even charmingly obscure. It’s just obscure. And it’s weird, because they’re all about being accessible to their fans. But I don’t this album is helping them in that regard. That said, I still really want to see them when they come to New Haven (in hopes that they will play some of the hits from the old albums, and, okay, maybe “This Too Shall Pass” and “I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe” aren’t terrible), but considering my ride recently withdrew from school, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. And I won’t be home from Connecticut in time to see them at Tulip Fest in Albany, so there go some more of my hopes and dreams.

Have a list of other bands that have disappointed me with their follow-up LPs. I’m going to go read Bridget Jones’s Diary and gorge myself on Doritos.

Five Bands or Artists That Have Fallen Victim to This Curse and the Offending Albums

1. Coldplay, X & Y
In which Chris Martin has a love affair with a synthesizer and this is their bastard child. Sometimes I like this album because it was my rock in a raging sea of awful during the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, but then I listen to something like “Low” or “Swallowed in the Sea” and I kind of want to punch myself in the face. Thank god Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends came along, or I might have totally lost faith in Coldplay. And they were pretty much my first grown-up favorite band. I couldn’t just give them up without some serious consideration.

2. Muse, The Resistance
This is debatable, because the songs are good, but it’s a weak album altogether. At least Black Holes and Revelations was a decent follow-up to the fucking worshipfulness that is Absolution. You can’t just follow upBHAR with an album whose opener contains the crowning lyric – according to Matt Bellamy – “If you could flip a switch and open your third eye / You’d see that we should never be afraid to die.” I’M JUDGING YOU, MBELLZ.

3. The Killers, Everything That Came After Hot Fuss
This is up for debate as I don’t actually own the entirety of Sam’s Town butDay & Age sucks ass, for the most part. I like “Spaceman” and sometimes “Human” and “I Can’t Stay,” but the rest is sort of pointless.

4. Lifehouse, Lifehouse
I also blame the fact that they got a new bassist and I am certain he was the reason why Jason Wade wrote that fucking “You and Me” song that makes me want to stab my eardrums out every time I hear it. I don’t mean that he and Jason Wade are gay for each other, I just mean that clearly his tastelessness – have you seen his haircut? – has rubbed off on other band members. The release of Who We Are in 2007 was some consolation, and I haven’t heard anything from Smoke and Mirrors yet, but I don’t think anything they do will ever match up to the lyrical and musical perfection that was Stanley Climbfall. And that makes me sad.

5. Ingrid Michaelson, Everything That Came After Girls & Boys
I don’t know what my sister is smoking – although she likes Jack Johnson, so maybe that explains everything – but she thinks that Everybody is a really great album. There are maybe three songs that are okay, but it’s boring musically and lyrically for the most part. And Be OK was a sad EP marketed as an LP. Don’t make me pay $10 thinking you’re releasing some original material when it’s actually some crappy live versions of your songs and a cover of one of Elvis Presley’s best songs (“Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” bitches!). I mean, it’s great that she did it to raise money for cancer research – Lord knows that’s a cause near and dear to my own heart – but Christ, couldn’t she have, you know, written some new material? I mean, if I’m gonna buy a live album, there better well at least be a DVD with it.

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About Liz

I'm a graduate student at Emerson College, pursuing my masters in publishing.
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