Avoiding the Sophomore Slump?

Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues

It must be a daunting prospect. Your debut album exceeds all expectations of acclaim and now you're faced with trying to follow it up? Can you avoid the "sophomore slump" that plagues so many bands who find themselves in this situation. A batch of young artists are now releasing their second efforts with thick anticipation from the music world.

Here are some notable ones:

  • Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues: Their debut album ended up at the top of many 2008's year end lists with its incredible harmonies and folk-sensibilities. Can this repeat the feat?
  • Bon Iver - Bon Iver: Although we haven't ordered our copies here quite yet, keep an eye out for Justin Vernon's new album slated to drop June 21. Until then, brush up on his haunting For Emma, Forever Ago.
  • Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong: Their self-titled album was full of short, distortion-laden garage songs (with an appreciated nod to the library on Young Adult Friction). Although this was released in March, I haven't had a chance to see if they continued in this direction or came up with some new sound to explore.
  • Toro Y Moi - Underneath the Pine: Quick on the heels of last year's Causers of This, this chillwave artist released his latest in February. A great album to pick up if you're asking yourself right now, "What is chillwave?".
  • Tune-Yards - Whokill: Merrill Garbus's project is a musical beast of loops, unique instruments, and some shockingly powerful singing. It has everything from reggae growls to lullabies. Released earlier this month, it's on heavy rotation in my headphones. Even better than headphones, Tune-Yards will be making a stop in Denver Wednesday. Watching her create these sounds live plus her playful theatrics should not to missed.

Any other sophomore albums you're waiting for with bated breathe?  Best second album of all time? Worst?


Haven't heard FF or BI, but Pains ..., Toro ... and Tuneyards are all great. The latter two have played fun shows here in Denver lately, and I was fortunate enough to catch PBPH down south. Highly recommended listening.

From various olden days: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Second Helping" featuring Sweet Home Alabama was a super-successful follow-up to their Free Bird-driven debut. Led Zeppelin II's first track was Whole Lotta Love - enough said. Santana's second album Abraxas provided the guitar maestro with the evergreen hit Black Magic Woman and an album cover that has fascinated young men of all ages to this day. The Psychedelic Furs second effort "Talk Talk", featuring Pretty In Pink, far outpaced their first album. Wilco's sophomore effort, the classic double-album "Being There" showcased Jeff Tweedy's songwriting talents in a more exciting, exploratory fashion than their initial album "A.M."


Thanks for pointing that out. It's been corrected.

My vote for best second album: Radiohead's The Bends. "Creep," off their debut, brought them to people's attention, but The Bends was a huge step forward.

A couple missing rap titles: Gza "Liquid Swords", Beastie Boys "Paul's Boutique" and Tribe Called Quest "Low End Theory.

My vote for best sophomore album of all time: Pinkerton by Weezer. Doesn't get better than that!

So excited for all these albums, thanks for the blog.

Great choice!  Pinkerton is fantastic.  Unfortunately, they have proven over and over again that they can't "get better than that"!  Speaking of Weezer, they are mentioned in this recent NPR Music article about breaking up with your favorite bands.

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