12 of the most disastrous second albums of all time – Stone Roses, Duffy and more

Ashley features, Music 6 Comments

Aaah the tricky second album syndrome, it catches a lot of bands on the hop doesn’t it? After all you have a decade or so to piece together the tunes for your first album, while the second is often flung together in a heartbeat after months of touring.

If you are smart you have saved a few great songs from your early days to tide you over. If not then you better hope that the substance induced writers block disappears and fast.

The tricky part is deciding do you simply try and replicate that first album and risk accusations that you haven’t moved on? Or take the band in a different direction and then risk alienating the fans who loved your early stuff. Either route is fraught with danger.

Here then are twelve apocryphal tales of bands whose second albums were in one way or another disastrous. Some of them, in fact many of them, are actually pretty good, but, poor reviews, a lack of hit singles and a general falling from fashion meant that they stalled, and in some instances killed, a band’s career.

So have a look through the list and tell me which ones I have missed in the comments.

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1 Elastica - Menace

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I can't imagine that it took that long to make Elastica's brilliant debut. Nick an odd Wire riff here, Stranglers keyboard break there, chuck in some angsty North London in the 90s lyrics and fill. So it might not have been the most original album ever but in Never Here, Stutter, Car Song and Waking Up it boasted several of the most incendiary tuns of the decade. So while the debut took months, the follow up Menace was six years in gestation. In that time the band had been through addictions, break ups, personnel changes and heaven knows what else. When Menace finally arrived it sounded very half-baked. The British new wave classicism of the first record had given way to a more experimental, American indie sound that frankly just didn't suit them. The droney Image Change is a great song and Generator has its moments, even if it does at times sound like Shampoo. Overall though Menace is the sound of a band unceremoniously pissing on their musical legacy. Occasionally it works - see Blur's 5th album - but mainly, like Menace, all it does is annoy your existing fans and not tempt anyone new to listen to you.

By Ashley | January 9th, 2013

  • White Light White Heat on this list?! Go to your room and have a think about what you’ve done.

  • Sam

    Gotta chip in that White Light White Heat is an awesome album which takes far more chances than the debut.

    Also, how could you miss The Darkness’s second album, ‘One way ticket to Hell… and back’ Dreadful second album that tanked a band who were genuinely big at the time.

  • Really good call on The Darkness, should have included that one. 

  • Me

    No list of disastrous second albums is complete without weezer’s Pinkerton. An album so badly received the band split up for four years. Turns out it got better with age, but that really should be top 3 on this list.

  • Derek

    :O what is wrong with you? Room On Fire was amazing!!! i loved Is This It, but Room On Fire was just….better! admittedly 12:51 was one of the weaker songs on there, but it seem like you’re focusing on just that. Plus, Room On Fire has more influences from Is This It than any of the other two seeing as how they basically sound alike.

  • Brandish

     I really like Room On Fire, but in the UK at least, they went from being the coolest band on the planet to also-rans overnight, so that is why it is so high on the list