Musicians rarely know to quit while they're ahead (if they do it's often because they die, like Jeff Buckley or Biggie). Of course, there are exceptions--James Murphy recently announced LCD Soundsystem's calling it quits because he doesn't want to be a geriatric rocker, and Neutral Milk Hotel broke up after releasing the flawless In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. But for the most part, bands just keep releasing album after album of tepid, overworked tracks that only the most die-hard fans even pretend to like.
As a young fan, I leaned this the hard way as all my favorite British bands like Maxïmo Park, Bloc Party, and Franz Ferdinand flubbed their sophomore efforts. Shelling out for the second album was always a huge letdown. What brings this to mind? The Strokes. Sigh. Yes, the Strokes, who this week released their fourth studio album, the dysfunctional Angles. That said, let's dive right in.1. The Strokes: Good job, guys! You did it! You saved rock and roll with the great "garage-rock revival" of 2001. If you'd only stopped at Is This It, you could've been really punk like the Sex Pistols and Rites of Spring and started a movement, then presided over it like the godfathers you aspire to be. Now you've been on hiatus since 2006. Do you really think admitting you couldn't even stand to be in the same room to record the new album is going to make you look good? We all know you did it for the money. Now you sound like a bad Phoenix ripoff. From a girl who used to love you from the bottom of her heart, stop. Go back to being dads or whatever it is you're up to now. Just, please, stop.
3. Coldplay: If they had quit after Parachutes, we'd only be stuck with "Yellow."
4. Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights is a great album. Whatever the second, third, and fourth records were called? Not so much.
5. MGMT: The band had a couple of great, Urban Outfitters pop hits with "Electric Feel" and "Kids" off of their debut. For their follow-up, Congratulations, the Pitchfork review declared "This time out, MGMT aren't crafting pop; they're Creating Art." Why do I get the feeling it's all downhill from there?
6. Arcade Fire: So what if they won a Grammy for their latest effort, The Suburbs? Anyone with ears knows it's not their best work, and the over-praise it received from critics was baffling. Funeral set the course for the next few years of indie music when it came out in 2004. It pretty much redefined an entire genre. I had great hopes for the follow-up, but none of their subsequent work has achieved even a fraction of Funeral's energy.
7. The Velvet Underground: OK, maybe I'm just list-baiting.