Everyone’s a critic, and man, are we a tough crowd. When it comes to high-profile albums, us fans are quick to let rampant anticipation shoot our expectations sky-high. But unfortunately, we’re just as quick to turn that excitement into sheer disappointment when records can’t meet their lofty expectations. When expectation and reality butt heads, we don’t exactly give some albums fair shakes.
So here’s a look at ten albums from Editor-in-Chief Erik van Rheenen that took a fan beating when they came out, but really just deserve a break. Feel free to reblog with any albums you think need to be championed as underrated masterpieces too!
Say Anything - Anarchy, My Dear
Anarchy, My Dear took a fan pummeling for not being …Is Still a Real Boy, and fans got up in arms over “Admit It!” getting sequeled. But besides the pent-up furor behind “Burn a Miracle,” Anarchy, My Dear finds Max Bemis at his romantic best and in sync with his pop sensibilities. Love-struck tunes like “So Good” and “Say Anything” aren’t songs of youthful rage and rebellion, but then again, this isn’t the same young and angry Max Bemis singing these songs. This is a happily married Bemis with a baby girl on the way, so forgive him for not writing “Futile” all over again. Just take Anarchy, My Dear at face value: a quirky collection of pop-rock jams.
The Ataris - Welcome The Night
So Long, Astoria is the landmark pop-punk album no one remembers: thirteen tracks of achingly nostalgic teenage anthems, gift-wrapped in soaring sing-along choruses and crunchy guitar riffs. After four years of silence, Kris Roe and company released Welcome the Night, a fuzzy, bleak contemplation on life. It pulled a 180 on fans, swapping energy for an ambience of rainy day despair. But it works. Roe turns in an absolutely heartbreaking performance, and it’s perfect listening for hazy winter nights. Don’t expect any road trip sing-alongs like “In This Diary,” and sink right into Roe’s troubled mindset with him.
Yellowcard - Lights And Sounds
If Welcome the Night came out before Lights and Sounds, Yellowcard would’ve suffered from a good case of Ataris-itis. After the feel-good juggernaut that was Ocean Avenue — and all of its bright-eyed youthfulness and beach-soaked power chords — the band dropped the simple melodies of pop-punk and wrote a straightforward alternative rock album. Much maligned as it is, the album was Yellowcard’s coming-of-age story more than Ocean Avenue ever was. Ryan Key’s voice is both fragile and polished, and his lyricism is on point. It stacks up surprisingly well against Yellowcard’s stellar discography.
New Found Glory - Coming Home
Unlike their pop-punk compatriots in Yellowcard or the Ataris, New Found Glory didn’t stray from their roots to sound serious or dark. They diverted from their well-worn pop-punk formula to write a simple pop album. There are no gang vocals, no chunky guitar riffs, and no fast, furious punk songs. Instead, Jordan Pundik is at his most vulnerable, sounding equal parts sincere and heart-on-sleeve romantic, especially on “It’s Not Your Fault” and “Boulders.” It’s not popular opinion, but another album in the Coming Home vein would be more than welcome in New Found Glory’s catalog.
Brand New - Daisy
Daisy was the album every Brand New fan wanted, but not the album every Brand New fan expected. Whereas every last detail of Deja Entendu and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me felt calculated and mapped out, Daisy cried havoc, opened the creative floodgates and let slip the dogs of war. The venom on Daisy — the aggressive “Sink,” blockbuster single “At the Bottom” — seeps into Jesse Lacey’s vocals, Brian Lane’s frenetic drumming, and Vin Accardi’s unbridled guitar riffs. The pop sensibilities fans missed aren’t gone; just hidden.
My Chemical Romance - Danger Days (True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys)
Sorry, My Chemical Romance fanboys and fangirls: The Black Parade is kind of a mess of a concept album. With songs that are either pompously overblown or completely understated, The Black Parade didn’t know what album it wanted to be. And while Danger Days’ vision of post-apocalyptic deserts and punks sporting laughable comic book getups is completely silly, it knows its genre: spacey pop-rock. Sure, a few songs (here’s looking at you, “Sing,”) fall flat, and yes, the interludes are laughable, but the injection of dance hall-enthusiasm came at the right time for the band. Try not rocking out to “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na)” or “Bulletproof Heart.” I double dog dare you.
blink-182 - Neighborhoods
“It’s too much like Angels & Airwaves.” “There’s too much Tom and not enough Mark.” “’Heart’s All Gone’ doesn’t sound like their older punk stuff.” We’ve heard those choruses since the band put out its first reunited effort, but honestly? Those complaints don’t hold up well. We’ll never know for sure — their hiatus leaves us a gap of infinite guesswork — but Neighborhoods felt like a natural progression from the untitled album, and missed out on some seriously radio airplay. “Even if She Falls” and “Kaleidescope” could’ve been huge. Compared to the lackluster (and kind of forgettable) dogs eating dogs EP, Neighborhoods was the reunion album Blink fans needed.
Taking Back Sunday - New Again
I’m still scratching my head at this one. Why is New Again so universally and mutually loathed by Taking Back Sunday’s divisive fan base? There’s a conspicuous lack of John Nolan, but the one-two punch of Adam Lazarra and Matt Fazzi is still a potent one. Fans who complain it’s not Tell All Your Friends or Where You Want To Be should scrap their nostalgia goggles: for what it is, New Again is a clinic on scathing alt-rock. Even Nolan admitted he likes New Again (especially “Everything Must Go”). If that’s not enough for the self-titled album apologists to come out of the woodwork and give New Again another shot, I don’t know what is.
Fall Out Boy - Folie a Deux
Full disclosure: My absolute, hands down, 100 percent least favorite Fall Out Boy song (“w.a.m.s.”) is on Folie a Deux. My least favorite Fall Out Boy verse (Lil Wayne on “Tiffany Blews.”) is on Folie a Deux. My least favorite Fall Out Boy closer is “West Coast Smoker.” Folie a Deux is still among Fall Out Boy’s best albums. This is the pop-punkers behind Take This to Your Grave all grown up, writing grown-up pop songs. Okay, so songs like “What a Catch, Donnie” and “Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet” are style over substance. But, with rhythm and blues influence and more soul than ever, what style it is.
Saves The Day - In Reverie
No one saw thiscoming after Stay What You Are. No one. Saves the Day shed its emo image, Chris Conley’s voice jumped an octave or two, and the band released In Reverie, a dreamy collection of indie rock jams. The hooks are still there, full-fledged and in full force. “Anywhere With You” is a love song that Weezer might’ve written, and “Blossom” is a manic fever dream of a tune. There’s no “Firefly,” no “At Your Funeral,” no “My Sweet Fracture.” And that’s okay. Chris Conley took great leaps forward as a songwriter, even if it meant sacrificing some emo cred. I guess that’s just growing up.
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