We’re Not Mad, We’re More Disappointed : 2010’s Biggest Letdowns

Before we get around to lavishing praise on the artists, songs and records that floated our boats in 2010, we thought we’d take a moment to exercise that hater in all of us.

Chris…

Worst Album : MAYA by M.I.A.
This might be the worst album ever. I’ve never thought of much of her to begin with. You can only ride Paper Planes for so long. Just look at what Diplo says about the album.

Biggest Letdown : Tomboy by Panda Bear
There is an aura of mystery around Panda Bear. We know Tomboy exists, but we aren’t quite sure if it’s done or when the hell it will be released. Many thought this year, like myself, but it looks like possibly early next year. It would have been nice to have it this year though. Why ya lettin’ me down Panda Bear?

Luftmensch…

Biggest Letdown : Heaven Is Whenever by The Hold Steady
I’ve come to terms with the fact that The Hold Steady will never duplicate or surpass, Boys And Girls In America. Ditto Separation Sunday. Ditto Almost Killed Me. Heaven Is Whenever is not a terrible record; far from it. We Can Get Together is certainly one of the finest songs of the year, but it’s a definite red flag when the best song on a Hold Steady record is a ballad. The rest of the record feels flat, with the exception of instances in which they’re obviously trying too hard (She said ‘The theme of this party’s the industrial age’/And you came in dressed as a train wreck). Someone obviously should have checked Franz Nicolay’s bags before he skipped town.

Worst Album : Interpol by Interpol
I’m always a little suspicious when a band breaks out a self-titled release mid-career. It reeks of quiet desperation and perhaps a last-ditch effort to revitalize itself by getting back to the basics, which wouldn’t be completed unexpected after your singer develops an alternate persona and your bass player departs soon after completion of the recording. When a band in turmoil enters the studio, you can usually expect one of two things. Either a record that crackles with conflict and angry energy (Ill Communication, Let It Be, Rumors) or a holy snoozefest. Zzzzzzz.

Best Career Move : Come Around Sundown by Kings Of Leon
Do me a favor. Stroll over to your CD collection or open your preferred media player and queue up Aha Shake Heartbreak. Listen to those songs. Marvel at the slurred and manic vocals. Thrill at the fevered performances. That record is so greasy that Lipitor doesn’t even dare show its face. Now listen to Come Around Sundown, at least as much of it as you can. Does that even sound like the same band? Have you ever heard a record so nondescript? Is it just me, or is an urhcin choir usually a pretty good sign that a band is running on the fumes of ideas? And yet the accolades keep coming. Anyone want to front me some cash to release Now That’s What I Call Soccer Mom Anthems Volume 1?

Dodge…

Congratulations by MGMT
Giving this young band complete creative control while investing oodles and oodles of money behind them should have seemed like a recipe for disaster. It’s like their label forgot everything about the last 10+ years that led to the demise of a few big labels. Anyway, MGMT didn’t write any singles, which to me is telling your fans you could care less what they hope for, and then toured behind their lack of catchy with a snotty attitude. Everything around and beyond this album was doomed.

MAYA by M.I.A.
Like, whoa. Pump the brakes, Maya. I’m all for having a message, but you’re on a one-way path to Lauryn Hill-ville if you keep this up. M.I.A. was better when she found the fun in taking herself too seriously.

White Crosses by Against Me!
I was late to the game with these guys to begin with, and really loved their major label debut, New Wave. Their 2010 release is embarrassing. This band is obviously struggling with growing up, but abandoning their long-time fan base in hopes of a cash grab with a younger less-critical audience is just a sad, sad way to go.

So there you go. We’ll be dropping our annual love very soon, but in the meantime, feel free to come down hard on 2010’s albums and artists that failed to live up to hype, expectation, or just plain failed.

  • flinchbot

    December 15, 2010 [ 12:29 pm ]

    I heard the new Revolting Cocks album last night for the first time. Holy cow. When did those guys decide to go all indie-rock? And covering “Me So Horny” is about 15 years late. And, like the rest of the album, their version sucked. Fortunately they threw in a remix of that song just to pummel home the point a second time that this cover (and album) suck.

  • Jenn

    December 15, 2010 [ 12:31 pm ]

    Ugh, MGMT totally gave me the one-two punch of Let Down this year in album and show form.

    I was abusing so many substances, there was statistically NO WAY for me to not enjoy that show, MGMT. And yet, you managed. You managed.

    Go to bed, MGMT.

  • Danielle

    December 15, 2010 [ 1:06 pm ]

    Most mentions on here I’m not familiar with.

    I do, however, totally agree that this was a bad year, album, and tour for MGMT. Will I give them one more chance, though? You betcha. *fingers crossed for next album*

    I couldn’t disagree more about M.I.A.’s 2010 release, however. I listened to it front to back, over and over again for a week straight when I first got my hands on it. Dodge has a good point about her political messages, but I’ve never been one to pay much attention to lyrics. The music sounds good to my ears (and the majority of my friends’ ears, as well) so I/we like it and dig it.

    Nice idea to do this list, by the way. Everybody needs haters, right?

  • Micah

    December 15, 2010 [ 1:42 pm ]

    Agree with everything here. I was also sorely disappointed with the new Midlake album (they had four years and *that’s* what they came up with?). And the “new” Ryan Adams/Cardinals material is awful.

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    December 15, 2010 [ 4:44 pm ]

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  • Dave

    December 16, 2010 [ 9:06 am ]

    Sufjan was a letdown for me. The EP was great, and I looked forward to the full length of “Adz” but blech. I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, repeatedly, but the change was just too drastic for me. I just felt so forced and overdone, and by Sufjan standards to overdo something is just WAY out there for me.

    Agree 100% on The Hold Steady too. Decent album, just not up to par of the previous work.

  • Keith

    December 17, 2010 [ 11:20 am ]

    I am with you on the Interpol, MGMT and MIA albums – you blow enough smoke up their keesters and they simply stop trying. I initially rejected the high sheen of Against Me!’s White Crosses (as New Wave is my fave rock LP of the past decade). But a few months later, I dusted it off and listened to it almost daily for about four straight months. I think it’s a big, unapologetic, sweeping arena rock masterpiece.

    My other big letdowns for 2010 was the first two new EP’s by Thomas Dolby: he dropped five, radically different, amazing albums in the first era of his career by wisely following his own muse. Now, it appears he’s chasing T Bone Burnett down the Americana rabbit hole. The result is boring, dull and listless. There are more EP’s to come, and I hope he finds a hook and eventually gets his groove back. Other 80’s acts, Devo, OMD and Duran Duran have returned in fine form this year, here’s hoping he does to.

    I am surprised how quickly I forgot about the new Jimmy Eat World. Arcade Fire, Paul Heaton and Brandon Flowers albums (something to rediscover or resell in 2011).

  • Luftmensch

    December 17, 2010 [ 11:34 am ]

    Hey Keith, let me just say, my initial draft of this post had Brandon Flowers’ feet to the fire, then it occurred to me that not enough folks noticed that piece of tripe to make it worth calling out.

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