Author Topic: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation  (Read 1171 times)

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Offline Zantera

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Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« on: October 22, 2016, 12:24:33 PM »
I was struggling with a good name for this thread, so if you read the title and thought "hey another thread where we list 400 underrated albums" then that's not necessarily what I wanted to say with the title. I was thinking earlier that many bands I listen to that have big discographies (over 5-6 albums at least) all have that one album that I seem to like more than the majority. But sometimes it even surpassed the usual "I like this more than the majority" and went into "This is actually really great and has redeeming qualities, and I can't believe the general consensus is so lukewarm". Because I think with many of us, it's black or white. If an album is not amazing, we tend to swing too far the other way and it gets forgotten about instead. And I think with some albums, maybe they need time to grow on us, and maybe the band needs to put out another 2 or 3 albums for us to truly look at that one album in the right way. Maybe that one weird album which at the time was a big shocker, eventually turned out to be a good stepping stone to what came after.

In short, I guess the reason I made this thread was for us to discuss certain albums that might not be universally loved among the fans, but we feel have redeeming qualities and should maybe get a second chance.

The album that started this for me was The Top by The Cure. Universally considered that one awkward album following their 3 masterpiece post-punk albums (Seventeen Seconds, Faith & Pornography) and preceding their 3 masterpiece alternative rock/pop albums (Head on the Door, Kiss Me & Disintegration, you could add Wish). But as a standalone it's generally ranked very low, but I feel like it's actually a rather great album, and here's why:

1. Opening the door for what followed
Before even going into the quality of the music on The Top, I feel it's a very important puzzle piece to their discography. The band had made 3 fantastic post-punk albums, with the last of them - Pornography basically being as good as it gets. I don't think another album in the same style could have topped that one, so instead they changed it up. We still got something like the title track, which is a genuinely great post-punk song (has a David Lynch vibe to it) which is in line with their previous 3 albums, but mostly we got a departure with psychedelic rock, alternative rock and pop. I think tracks like "The Caterpillar" really paved the way for future hits like "In Between Days", "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love". There's a lot of interesting ideas that the band expanded on the following albums present here.

2. The quality of the songs
It was a harder album to digest than some of their others but ultimately I think the songs mostly hold up quality-wise. "Shake Dog Shake" is an excellent opener with great guitars and a memorable chorus, and after hearing it live recently, I was reminded by what a great opener it is. "Wailing Wall" is an interesting psychedelic track, very proto-Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, "Give Me It" is beautiful chaos and "Dressing Up" features a really lovely main melody and haunting vocal performance by Robert Smith. We already brought up the radio hit that is "The Caterpillar", and the dark & twisted post-punk song that is "The Top", but throw in a wonderfully quirky song like "Bananafishbones" and a great "Piggy in the Mirror" and you have a really darn solid tracklist. I feel like song quality wise, the album holds up very well. It's perhaps a bit shattered in terms of focus, but so was Kiss Me (which has a higher status) and that album was even longer.

3. It serves a purpose in their discography
Like I said before, I think The Top definitely paved the way for the albums that followed. But other than that, I feel like it also stands well on its own feet. When the album came out, it was just really different. Going from Pornography to The Top, it was something completely different. But I feel like knowing what came afterwards and where the band went style-wise, The Top all of a sudden makes more sense and it's easier to take in if you've already gotten into the latter albums. It captures a mood of its own and I feel like it's different and unique enough to where the album offers you something that you might not necessarily get from one of their other albums. Rather than being a safe album in their wheelhouse, they made something different, and when following this album up, they changed things up again. So it's not that one boring carbon-copy album that just comes off as a weaker (insert good album here).

While not in my top5 Cure albums, I do feel like The Top deserves a better reputation, and rather than being considered a weak link, I think it's good enough to the point where I consider the band's amazing run to include The Top, and stretch from Seventeen Seconds to Wish without any exceptions in the middle.

There are a few more albums that came to mind by other groups that are big here, but I only wanted to bring up 1 album in this first post, because it would be even more of a wall of text otherwise. But I feel like with most of the forum favorites (Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Anathema, to name a few) you could make the case for at least 1 album in their discography. :) So what's yours?

Offline Sacul

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2016, 12:48:55 PM »
Hesitation Marks, definitely. Many NIN fans don't like it because it's not the angst and heaviness of past records, but rather a very electronic, weird pop album with some R&B leanings. I think it's a great album, tracks like Copy of A and Came Back Haunted are among my favs, but All Time Low, In Two, and Various Methods of Escape are excellent as well. Might not be a very consistent record and not among Reznor's best efforts, but on its own it's a solid release.

Offline Zantera

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2016, 01:16:22 PM »
I really enjoyed Hesitation Marks. I thought it was a solid comeback considering NiN felt very much dead at that point. It's a good example for this thread, I think an album most fans thought was good, but because it wasn't 4/5 or 5/5 amazing, it was forgotten pretty fast. It wouldn't make my top3 NiN albums, but I really liked it.

Offline Kotowboy

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2016, 03:16:59 PM »
Hesitation Marks, definitely. Many NIN fans don't like it because it's not the angst and heaviness of past records, but rather a very electronic, weird pop album with some R&B leanings. I think it's a great album, tracks like Copy of A and Came Back Haunted are among my favs, but All Time Low, In Two, and Various Methods of Escape are excellent as well. Might not be a very consistent record and not among Reznor's best efforts, but on its own it's a solid release.

Thats weird because just today I remembered this album exists. I thought The Slip was their last album.

Offline LieLowTheWantedMan

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2016, 03:55:53 PM »
Here Comes the Indian is one of the least popular Animal Collective albums and it's possibly a top 10 album of all time for me. I also think it's the album that most defines them as a band.

And I also like Hesitation Marks quite a bit.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2016, 11:49:24 AM »
First two to come to mind whenever this comes up:

Point of Entry, Judas Priest
Dynasty, Kiss

Offline Lowdz

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2016, 11:57:46 AM »
First two to come to mind whenever this comes up:

Point of Entry, Judas Priest
Dynasty, Kiss

I agree with both of those.

I'd throw in Unmasked and The Elder too


Offline Mosh

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2016, 12:04:11 PM »
I think Dynasty is a great album. Unmasked and Elder both have their moments.
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Offline romdrums

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2016, 03:45:01 PM »
I would agree with Hesitation Marks.  It's the one NIN album that I can listen to and not feel emotionally drained after I'm done.  It gets better with repeated listenings.
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Offline Tomislav95

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2016, 03:47:03 PM »
Unia by Sonata Arctica. I know there are people on DTF who love it but it's not really among their most popular albums.
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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2016, 03:54:02 PM »
I really like Vitalogy by Pearl Jam.

Offline ChuckSteak

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Re: Underrated albums that are better than their reputation
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2016, 05:26:36 PM »
Do you know any underrated albums that are worse than their reputation? No, that would be overrated then. I guess the very meaning of underrated is something being better than its reputation, obviously, so I dunno why the repetition/explanation on the thread name.

Hmmm... I can't think of any album right now.