10 Bands That Possibly Peaked on Their Debuts
Many great musicians have fallen victim to the dreaded sophomore slump. After a wildly successful debut album, the pressure is on, as fans and critics alike wonder, “Can they do it again?” Unfortunately, more than a few artists haven’t been able to recapture the magic on their second album — or even on their third or fourth, for that matter. Such is the case with the following groups: 10 Bands That Possibly Peaked on Their Debuts. Most of them are still active, and these days, everyone reunites, so there’s a chance everyone listed below will prove us wrong. We’re not haters — we hope they do. But as it stands, if we’re in the mood to hear their music, we’re reaching for the early stuff.
Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot garnered a fair amount of success from one EP in the two years before the release of their 2008 full-length debut, ‘The Rhumb Line.’ They also enjoyed the benefits of being associated with fellow East Coast preppy indie-rockers Vampire Weekend. The combination led to early gems like ‘Can You Tell,’ but the band couldn’t quite maintain that momentum on their 2010 sophomore album, ‘The Orchard,’ or their most recent release, ‘Beta Love.’
Tapes ‘n Tapes
Sharing some rise-and-fall parallels with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (see No. 2 on this list), Minnesota quartet Tapes ‘n Tapes experienced some Internet-fueled acclaim for their 2005 debut, ‘The Loon.’ However, that success tapered off (no pun intended) with their two following albums, 2008’s ‘Walk it Off’ and 2011’s ‘Outsider.’
Best Coast’s debut, ‘Crazy For You,’ came out at the height of summer 2010 and served up a ton of super-catchy, beachy, lo-fi tunes. While 2012’s follow-up, ‘The Only Place,’ retained the sunshine and lyrical repetitions of its predecessor, it was almost too perfect in its production, missing out on the fuzzy beauty that ‘Crazy For You’ had to offer.
Florence and the Machine
With her 2009 debut, ‘Lungs,’ Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine wowed listeners with her head-in-the-clouds lyrical imagery and equally larger-than-life vocals. Simply put, it was stunning, and people were quick to catch on, ultimately making ‘Dog Days Are Over’ her defining hit. Welch followed up with ‘Ceremonials’ in 2011, and while it also had an air of other-worldliness and produced its share of hits, it didn’t quite capture the dreamy mystique of the debut.
Wolf Parade’s 2005 debut, ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary,’ caught a lot of hype and well-deserved praise. It was a perfectly fragmented collaboration between the two very distinct frontmen, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner. While their two subsequent albums, ‘At Mount Zoomer’ and ‘Expo 86,’ were by no means flops, neither equaled ‘Apologies.’ Given that the band announced its breakup last year, it's likely we've heard the best they're going to give us.
The Killer’s 2004 debut, ‘Hot Fuss’ is a favorite from the early 2000s, and it went on to produce four singles that played all over the radio. The band has since added three records to their catalog, but none fell together with quite the same cinematic quality found on ‘Hot Fuss.’
British indie-rockers Bloc Party kind of fell off the map after their 2005 debut, ‘Silent Alarm.’ The debut boasted a series of super clean and energetic hits, like the singles, ‘Banquet’ and ‘Pioneers,' but the three following albums were exercises in diminishing returns.
Sunny Day Real Estate
While Sunny Day Real Estate’s emo-defining 1994 debut, ‘Diary,’ isn’t necessarily leaps and bounds ahead of their self-titled follow-up, it's definitely better, and understandably so. The sophomore album was marred by the band’s inner-turmoil, with rumors that frontman Jeremy Enigk’s conversion to Christianity played a role in their 1995 breakup. The band regrouped and released two more albums, but not with the original lineup, and not quite living up to the greatness of that opening salvo. Barring another (better) reunion, 'Diary' will stand as their high-water mark.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Brooklyn quintet Clap Your Hands Say Yeah did something relatively unheard of with their 2005 self-titled debut: They released it without a label or PR company behind them. Then that was all you heard about, as the band garnered the attention of practically every music blog on the planet. The band self-released its 2007 follow-up, ‘Some Loud Thunder,' and while it offered some solid songs, it wasn’t as consistent as the debut. In 2011, they released their third album, ‘Hysterical,’ this time with a label, and unfortunately, it also failed to capture the well-deserved buzzworthiness of the debut.
You couldn’t really go anywhere in the fall of 2007 without hearing some of the mega hits from MGMT’s debut, ‘Oracular Spectacular.’ The album delivered some super-catchy psychedelia with songs like ‘Time to Pretend' and ‘Electric Feel.’ It was really quite something, and it certainly got everyone talking. Then came the band’s 2010 follow up, ‘Congratulations,’ a clear departure that, while adventurous, presented a mixed bag of songs. However, the band has a new record on the way, and hopefully, they'll prove us long and gain safe passage off of this list.