The maxim goes that you have your whole life to write your first album, and about six months to write your second. Thus, a sophomore slump can afflict bands and artists of all genres.
That, combined with all manner of other factors, can lead to disappointing follow ups to smash hit debuts. It’s for the artist to deal with, and if your second album doesn’t work out, start thinking about your third, your fourth, etc.
The music industry is a cruel business, and you need to role with the punches. But what if there’s another way?
What about those bands and artists who might have been better off calling it a day after that first release? Whether it’s due to shoddy workmanship on subsequent releases, or the sheer quality of that magical debut, some acts might just have done their legacy a big favour had they torn up the contract early doors in their careers.
This is purely speculative, of course, and there’s no way of saying how an early bath would have affected these musicians’ reputations. But there’s no shame in keeping the fans wanting more, and sometimes it might just be the best thing to do.
10. Franz Ferdinand
The early noughties were a strange time for the UK indie scene. Every group of thin lads in vintage suits suddenly had a record deal.
The winners were the Arctic Monkeys, who have only increased their status through the tactic of writing good, varied songs. Franz Ferdinand, meanwhile, debuted in 2004 with a stellar album, and have failed to replicate that success ever since.
The self-titled LP is a relic of those days. With so many bands trying to pull off angular art-pop, the Glasgow four piece did better than most. They had the look, the smarts, the swagger - they seemed unstoppable. But what came next just wasn’t the same.
Followup track You Could Have It So Much Better saw the band turning arch and knowing, and they’ve only got deeper into irony ever since.
The thing is, Franz Ferdinand’s music was fun enough without it having to be explicitly comedic. It was well crafted throwback dance rock, with a groove modern mainstream indie has rarely been able to replicate since. They were no doubt having a good time showing off their smarts, but in due course it seemed like the joke was supposed to be on us.