Monday, March 28, 2011

The late career renaissance

I have written recently about how I think Soundgarden releasing a new album is a bad (BAD) idea. However, Cornell spoke about recording the new album to Spin:

"We're putting the music first," Cornell explains. "The process of writing, recording, and being creative together is the most important thing, not meeting a deadline."

I guess that bodes well in terms of not having contractual obligations to rush the thing and I sure as hell hope that there is no chance that this or this happens again. Anyhow, I've been thinking this through and perhaps they might be lucky enough to pull off the late career renaissance.

Generally I think the late career renaissance can be defined by the following three factors:
a) a band is well into its second or third decade;
b) they've released a couple of dud albums or been on extended hiatus; and
c) there is no expectation that they'll release anything amazing at this stage in their career.

Whenever I think of the career renaissance I think of Fugazi's The Argument. After the below par End Hits and the water treading Instrument Soundtrack, Fugazi's swansong is a ferocious call to arms by a band playing to its strengths. With tracks like Cashout and Epic Problem (released before epic became a meme), it is a fantastic album which was a sadly fitting end to this band's discography (come back boys, we still love you). Two years later Wire released Send, a reformation album that was, to be frank, fucking awesome.

Other more recent examples include Built to Spill's There Is No Enemy and Superchunk's Majesty Shredding - both fantastic albums that were surprises considering their previous couple of albums (or in Superchunk's case, 9 years after their last release*).

Can Soundgarden pull this off? I'm not convinced that the instincts that led to Badmotorfinger and Superunknown haven't been dulled by time, separation and Timbaland. But who knows? I'm happy to be proven wrong. We can always live in hope that our favourite bands that have gone off the boil can come screaming back in style someday. It's never too late.

(*Superchunk's Here's to shutting up (2001) is actually a good album but the few before it are pretty lame - sorry Mac.)


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