Some of these albums split opinions. Others have been panned by fans and critics alike. What they all have in common, however, is that they come from bands that have hit the big time and built some wildly popular discographies over the years. Perhaps these albums were unfortunate to succeed an effort that is considered a classic, or perhaps the band used them to take an unexpected direction with their music. We at MEB have a fondness for giving second chances, so today we bring you some often overlooked albums that, for one reason or another, have been sadly underrated and deserve another chance at love.
New Wave – Against Me!
Diehard fans of Against Me! tout New Wave as a major-label nightmare for the band, citing its pop tendencies and the departure from anarcho-punk above anything else. While “Stop!” is a kinda-sorta laughable feat, there’s no denying that New Wave has some of the best-written tracks in AM!’s catalog. “Piss and Vinegar”, “White People for Peace”, “The Ocean” and “Thrash Unreal” are all standout tracks. To this day, the delivery of “no mother ever dreams that her daughter’s gonna grow up to be a junkie” still gives me chills. The album was an unexpected game-changer and it changed the game to somethin’ fierce. It was 2007; the band needed something to protest other than anarchy. Naturally, they chose politics with a dash of the inner workings of the self and it still holds its own. Now, somebody get me that yellow vinyl. – Connor Feimster
Humbug – Arctic Monkeys
Coming off of two massively popular full-length efforts, British indie rock group Arctic Monkeys were looking to take a different approach with their third LP. Teaming up with both the producer of their previous album, the legendary Josh Homme, the band ditched the speedy, garage-punk-influenced sound of their earlier years in favor of a more progressive, psychedelic vibe. The result was Humbug, a chilled-out, introspective masterpiece that didn’t so much replicate the band’s previous work as it did solidify their reputation as true artists. They explore previously uncharted sonic territory with ease, taking their old sound and morphing it into something unfamiliar, yet undeniably captivating. Of course, like most groups who abandon the style on which they built their success, the Monkeys didn’t earn much praise from many fans of their earlier albums. However, to me, Humbug represents how good they truly can be. – Eli Shively
New Surrender – Anberlin
New Surrender: The album that was unfortunate enough to follow Anberlin’s universally acclaimed third effort, Cities. As fans had grown to expect nothing less than perfection from the group at this point, poor New Surrender was perhaps destined to find some negativity. As a result, many now see this album as the band’s weakest effort. This is too bad, as they are missing out on enjoying some of the hardest hitting songs in Anberlin’s discography (“Disappear”, “The Resistance”), their clever-as-ever lyrics (“Blame Me! Blame Me!”, “Retrace”), yet another brooding, epic closer (“Miserabile Visu”), and the sugary pop-rock song that could/should have blown up on the radio (“Haight Street”). Sure, there are a couple of clunkers (“Soft Skeletons” and “Younglife”), but overall, New Surrender is far better than the reputation many fans have given it. Give it another chance; you may be pleasantly surprised. – Joe Ballard
Folie à Deux – Fall Out Boy
All of the albums featured here saw fan backlash, but none saw enough negativity to play a major role in sending the band on hiatus. When Fall Out Boy played songs from this record live, audiences literally booed. Aside from being ridiculously rude, those people were sadly mistaken. I mean, it’s legitimately sad that they didn’t (refused to?) enjoy this record, because it’s far and away the most solidly creative release this band has put out to date. From the way the opening builds to the pure wit of all of the lyrics to the massive hooks to the masterful integration of the group’s most memorable songs in the medley at the end of “What A Catch, Donnie,” every element of what these guys can do fell perfectly into place. I’d list the best songs, but you should really just read down the tracklisting. It’s not as straightforwardly pop-punk as Take This To Your Grave or From Under The Cork Tree, and it’s a good thing that the band was able to develop in the ways they needed to instead of trying to recapture what they did in their youth. You can not like this record, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s truly something special. – Jacob Testa
Young Machetes – The Blood Brothers
The Blood Brothers is a classic example of a band that burned out too soon – at least on a personal level, as they only seemed to hit the peak of their artistic and commercial appeal near the end of their career. But while many sing the praises of Crimes and Burn, Piano Island, Burn, their final LP Young Machetes isn’t worth overlooking either. Whether it is the bombastic opener “Set Fire to the Face on Fire” or the fitting finale of “Giant Swan”, the Bloods were definitely still in a fit of musical brilliance at moments on this record even if it didn’t have immediate resonance like the previous two LPs. It’s a record worth starting with if you’re in the sudden mood of discovery for something different, with influences from punk to cabaret to synth-tinged rock filling this jarring roller-coaster of an album. – Jason Gardner
The Here and Now – Architects
In terms of complete reversals of fortune, they don’t come much bigger or more abruptly than British metalcoreans Architects. Coming off the back of their hugely successful and critically acclaimed Hollow Crown record, The Here and Now eschewed the technical metalcore for a melodic post-hardcore sound. Or, y’know, we could just call a spade a spade and admit that it was an Alexisonfire cover album.
In all seriousness, this album nearly killed their careers. They released another album only months later that retained the heavier sound they built their career on, and dammit, that was the wrong decision. Songs like “Heartburn” and “An Open Letter to Myself” are introspective heartbreakers, while “Day In, Day Out”, “Delete, Rewind” and “Stay Young Forever” are straight-up post-hardcore classics. Let’s not forget, this is a band who had only ever been a tech-metal band, and on their first try at post-hardcore, they hit it out of the park. I liked Hollow Crown and Daybreaker, but The Here and Now is the kind of band they should be and they let that go way too easily. – Jeremy Vane-Tempest
Daisy – Brand New
When the idea for this piece was first suggested, the immediate question was, “So who is going to write about Daisy?” It is dark. It is abrasive. It is frustrating. But the main thing Daisy has working against it is simple: it doesn’t really sound like Brand New. As fellow MEBer Jason Gardner put it, “If Daisy was made by any other band, people would like it more.” And it’s completely true. Put aside the fact that this is the band that wrote “Seventy Times 7”, and this record is truly a masterpiece. From the eerie brooding of “You Stole” and “Bed” to the caustic chaos of “Gasoline” and “In a Jar”, the album hits the listener like a tidal wave. If you are willing to concede that Brand New will never write another Déjà Entendu, you will be able to see Daisy as the sinisterly beautiful record it is. – Nick Niedzielski
The King of Limbs – Radiohead
Pour over recent musings on it and you’ll often see it described as the album that divided the band’s fan base. Sure, countless fans may have expected something that expounded upon the sounds of In Rainbows, but instead we were greeted with an experimental surprise. The King of Limbs did take time to grow on me but after many listens, I grew to appreciate the sheer complexity of the album. The dissident vocals, the sampling, the layers upon layers of percussion, there’s so much to enjoy in this album but it takes hours of investment to see. It’s the rare album that deserves a 5th or 6th chance. – John Frazier
Ire Works – The Dillinger Escape Plan
This criminally underrated album was released in 2007. Featuring jarring deviations into electronic blips and sputters mixed in with the band’s burgeoning sense of melody and songwriting, Ire Works is often seen as the mere adolescent bridge between Miss Machine and Option Paralysis. I wholeheartedly disagree. This album shows The Dillinger Escape Plan at, if not their most cohesive, their most breathtaking and interesting. Who wouldn’t marvel at the brooding brilliance of “Sick on Sunday”, the snarly sexuality of “Milk Lizard”, the terrifying anger of “Nong Eye Gong,” or the cataclysmic declarations of “Horse Hunter”, which features Brent Hinds’ gorgeous vocals.
Even more than that, I think that the album actually works as a whole; it consists of a few mini-structures that, even seen separately, are magnificent, such as the two “When Acting as a…” tracks sandwiching “Nong Eye Gong”. To top it all off, the glorious “Mouth of Ghosts” brings it all to a stunning, cathartic end and is possibly one of the most gratifying Dillinger tracks. To start enjoying Ire Works, the best advice I can give is: revisit the album and listen to it as its own entity, trying, as difficult as it is, not to compare it to other Dillinger albums. – Ben Altomari
Our Color Green – Glassjaw
Eight years between releases is a lifetime in the music industry. So when Glassjaw finally released Our Color Green, people were quick to dismiss the collection of singles as a pity offering that wasn’t actually new material. And that’s their loss. Right from the start of “All Good Junkies Go to Heaven” you hear the spark that hardcore tried to recreate for eight years. The slurred and seductive clean vocals in said opener, the unprocessed “garage” feel to “Jesus Glue” and “You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon) that perhaps otherwise only Deftones could accomplish, the inherent catchiness of “Natural Born Farmer” and the complete destructive power of “Stars” all serve as a perfect summation of what Glassjaw had achieved since 1993 while simultaneously hinting at what ground would still be uncovered in their forthcoming EP, Coloring Book. This is an EP that should not be lost in time; it may have been easy to miss upon release, but Our Color Green is certainly hard to ignore. – Steve Alcala
Our Love To Admire – Interpol
Interpol’s Our Love to Admire catches a lot of flak from fans, and frankly, I don’t really get it. Turn on the Bright Lights, the band’s first album, was dark, moody, and atmospheric in the best ways. Antics was just brilliant through and through. Love, though, seems to fall by the wayside; of all things, it usually comes under fire for being “too accessible”. When did it become a black mark for music to be easily enjoyed and understood? Other times, the album is lambasted for being too reminiscent of its morbidly gorgeous predecessors. Why is sticking to the same style, rather than reinventing a wheel that rolls along just fine, seen as something to be avoided? Some would give Love the cold shoulder, but me? I’m content to enjoy it right alongside the rest of Interpol’s catalogue. – Alexandra Brueckner