*Written and published for AUX
Awhile back we posted about bands overcoming the ‘sophomore slump.’ In most cases their second albums proved they were professional musicians with more than a dozen or so good licks. The third album however is probably as tricky as the second and truly shows what they’re made of and what they have to offer. We’ve seen third albums flop, but those unmentionables are for another day. Today rather we highlight the best and what turned out to be most groundbreaking third album releases that ultimately put the band’s name on the lips and in the ears of everyone across the globe.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (2009)
For those only familiar with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s through their song “Maps,” one of the greatest alternative rock love songs, all they saw in It’s Blitz! was a hand crushing an egg. That’s before taking a listen obviously. Following 2006’s LP Show Your Bones and the EP Is Is, released a year later, Yeah Yeah Yeahs catapulted themselves to the big screen, or big stage, with 10 songs and four acoustic takes. The sound on It’s Blitz! is nothing revolutionary and is unsurprising for fans of the band as the edgy rock/synth combo is still present. If anything singer Karen O’s shows off some vocal skill, especially on the acoustic takes, and the band as a whole reveal they are not limited to explicit in-your-face alternative rock like on their previous albums.
Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
It’s difficult to think of third albums and have Radiohead’s OK Computer slip your mind. Numerous articles, chapters of books and people in general have devoted themselves to just less than 60 minutes of music created by four English lads from Oxford. The animated video for the album’s lead single “Paranoid Android,” directed by Magnus Carlsson, is a staple for the ‘90s and the song itself is memorable for everyone growing up during that time. We can talk about how many bands were influenced by this album till the next decade and that’s what makes this music so worthy of being dubbed one of the best alternative rock albums ever. It was the first step in the long musical journey Radiohead as a band would pursue in terms of sound. With its politically driven lyrics and collection of creative images, the album is responsible for part of the success the band has today.
Metric – Live It Out (2005)
“Bam-chick-a-bam, chick-a-boom-boom-boom, sha-lang-sha-lang-boom.” Technically the third although released as their second, their first album Grow Up and Blow Away was re-released in 2007, Metric’s Live It Out stands alone as one of the best Canadian indie rock albums of the last decade. After a long eerie intro and soft vocals from singer Emily Haines, “Empty,” the album’s opening song launches you into a heavy guitar/drums assault. The rest of the disc goes back and forth between chilled out and hard rocking snyth tracks that, although done by so many other bands around this time, remain both original and memorable.
Hole – Celebrity Skin (1998)
Call Courtney Love what you want, perhaps Courtney Michelle, but there was once a time when her band Hole was one of the best female fronted alternative rock bands on the planet and even received Grammy nominations. Could you imagine Courtney Love going up and collecting a Grammy Award? Musically this album marked a slight change for Hole as they adopted a more polished version of their previous raw grungy take on alternative rock. Love herself had a transformation around this time as she started to shape up her image and landed roles in the movies, The People vs. Larry Flint and 200 Cigarettes. Whether their latest, Nobody’s Daughter lives up to this album is undecided, although we’re pretty sure it won’t as we sadly watch the reformed Hole, or Courtney Love, getting up on stage trying to get back the musical prowess she once had.
Blink 182 – Enema of the State (1999)
With lyrics like, “I’d ditch my lecture to watch the girls play soccer, is my picture still hanging in her locker?” Blink 182’s Enema of the State solidified the new wave of pop punk and set a precursor for the legions of bands to follow. It was the first album with drummer Travis Barker and was Blink’s first popular album. For those who had known the band in their Cheshire Cat, Dude Ranch days, this album was nothing knew as they once again took on writing upbeat tunes based on love lost and jacking off in weird places. To accompany their witty, but most of the time immature themes, the band captured their thoughts through music videos by running naked through the streets or imitating current boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and what not.