The xx have just announced new European tour dates for 2016, kicking off next month. The London trio are on the verge of releasing their thrid studio album too.

Now, if you remember, Dan Meth, a viral web cartoonist and movie geek, posted an ingenious Trilogy Meter a few years ago, which aimed to demonstrate that the third film in any trilogy is invariably a stinker.

His theory broadly holds true (although I disagree on ‘Back To The Future’ – come on, that flying steam train at the end of ‘III’ is inspired), but it got us thinking: what would happen if we applied the same visual format to albums?

Actually, you have to invert the rule when it comes to bands’ third records, since they often represent the moment when artists transcend their early gaucheness and kick into a higher creative gear. I’m thinking of The Smiths with ‘The Queen Is Dead’, Bruce Springsteen with ‘Born To Run’. Pick out the ‘breakthrough’ album in a major band’s career, and invariably third time proves to be the charm.

There are exceptions, of course. Spot the odd one out in this list (the blue bar represents the broad, thumbnail critical worth attached to each album). Can you think of any other wretched third records..?

third albums