Look! They’re all facepalming! How appropriate. Anyway, please note that these are not necessarily the worst albums: stuff like the Strokes’ Comedown Machine and Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) were a lot worse than most of what is brought up here, but I expect the Strokes to continue their downspiralling progression and I don’t expect anything from a collection of leftovers. This is just a list of albums that disappointed because of the hype surrounding the album before/during/after its release and the fact that I know the artist could do better.
5. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
If 2010’s High Violet was essentially all the political angst (“Mr. November”), lyrical intricacies (“Karen”), flesh (“Fake Empire”), blood (“Start a War”) and sinew (“Mistaken for Strangers”) removed from Alligator and Boxer, with piano replacing guitar, than Trouble Will Find Me is High Violet without the emotion and strings to hide that fact.
4. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Regine Chassagne barely sings; bad lyrics misconstrued as good because they’re important; it’s too fucking long. If it means anything, I have a small playlist from this double album that I spin almost semi-regularly and I bothered enough to see them tour the album live – great show with great atmosphere thanks to the formal attire/costume request; fuck the complainers.
3. The Weeknd – Kiss Land
Take away the hooks from House of Balloons, take away the booming sound of Thursday, take away the experimentation of Echoes of Silence and you get the Weeknd’s first debut album. I get the feeling here that Abel Tesfaye is one of the rare sorts of people who actually sits down to watch a porn flick in its entirety.
2. David Bowie – The Next Day
I’m not comparing The Next Day to David Bowie’s critically acclaimed albums from the 70s; that would be folly. I can, however, compare it to 2002’s Heathen, which was a respectable album and apparently his last listenable one; The Next Day has even less melodies, less bright ideas and is longer. The hype here just feels like the critics were happy to have one of its darlings back on their feet.
1. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
I’m not comparing m b v to Loveless; that would be folly. I’m judging it on its own merits, and this sucks. Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher don’t write a single memorable melody here, so they hide it in muddier production and add drums. The hype here just feels like the critics were happy to have one of its darlings back on their feet.