Making an album is a labour of love, but it can quickly turn sour and sometimes, months or years later, you realise you weren’t fond of it whatsoever.
Fleet Foxes – ‘Fleet Foxes’ (2008), ‘Helplessness Blues’ (2011)
Frontman Robin Pecknold recently told a fan his new material “is a different vibe” from all his albums so far: “Please trust my time-fortified discernment as I endeavor to scrub the soundfield of BS and empty sonic reference,” he wrote, adding he felt “guilt” and “imposter syndrome” at the band’s success.
Lykke Li – ‘Youth Novels’ (2008).
Said Lykke Li of her first album ‘Youth Novels’ in 2014, “I cannot stand [it]. It is so bad,” candidly adding, “I sucked”.
Joy Division – ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (1979). Now, everyone accepts that Joy Division’s debut is a seminal post-punk classic, but Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook weren’t initially enamoured with Martin Hannett’s production. “I couldn’t hide my disappointment then, it sounded like Pink Floyd,” Hook once said – although he now admits he was wrong.
The Smiths – ‘The Smiths’ (1984). Morrissey has often gone public about his disappointment with the Manchester band’s debut LP because of its muddy production and mixing. He told label Rough Trade that the album “wasn’t good enough” to be put out, but it was released regardless.
Suede – ‘A New Morning’ (2002). Brett Anderson’s disappointment with ‘A New Morning’ was a key reason for him reforming the band and release a new LP in 2012, in order to give their legacy a fitting send-off. Describing the LP as a “huge fuck-up” to NME, he admitted: “‘A New Morning’ was the weakest one [Suede album]. It was a real mistake, releasing that record.”
Morrissey – ‘Kill Uncle’ (1991). In ‘Autobiography’, Morrissey reserves some of his finest bile for the misstep that was his 1991 album ‘Kill Uncle’, describing it as “pale and pasty” and complaining that it was scuppered by “session musician embalming fluid”. Not his proudest release, then.
The Strokes – ‘Angles’ (2011). A curious one, this: rather than disowning an album long after its release, The Strokes started burying ‘Angles’ straight away. “There’s a bunch of stuff [on it] that I wouldn’t have done,” grumbled Julian Casablancas, with guitarist Nick Valensi admitting that studio sessions were “awful”.
Eminem – ‘Encore’ (2004). “Looking back on it now, there was some pretty mediocre things that I was putting out,” said Eminem years after releasing the patchy ‘Encore’. “When I was making ‘Encore’, my addiction took on a life of its own.” He also subsequently revealed that tracks like ‘Weenie’ were so short of his usual standard that his mentor, Dr Dre, had laughed at him when recording it.
REM – ‘Around The Sun’ (2004). Unlucky number 13 for REM, here: ‘Around The Sun’ was their 13th studio album and also one of their poorest, according to the band themselves. Guitarist Peter Buck said the LP “just wasn’t really listenable” and added: “It sounds like what it is, a bunch of people that are so bored with the material that they can’t stand it anymore.”
Manic Street Preachers – ‘Lifeblood’ (2004). The Welsh band have never been fond of their ‘Lifeblood’ LP, deeming it a commercial failure – although it still reached Number 13 in the UK Albums Chart. In 2013, Nicky Wire told NME that the band refused to play ‘The Love Of Richard Nixon’, a single from the album, at their live shows.
David Bowie – ‘Never Let Me Down’ (1987). According to Bowie, he was in a “mire” while working on ‘Never Let Me Down’ and that his indifference to the album’s production had had a negative impact. “‘Never Let Me Down’ had good songs that I mistreated. I didn’t really apply myself,” he later said. “I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing.”
The La’s – ‘The La’s’ (1990). The La’s debut LP was a struggle from start to finish in the studio: Lee Mavers’ perfectionist streak and tendency to tinker meant that he was never satisfied with the album’s sound. Eventually, the LP was released against Mavers’ wishes – and he immediately disowned it.
Foo Fighters – ‘One By One’ (2002). Dave Grohl has never spoken particularly warmly of the Foo’s 2002 effort. “Four of the songs were good, and the other seven I never played again in my life,” he candidly said later.
Weezer – ‘Pinkerton’ (1996). Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo doesn’t think ‘Pinkerton’ was a bad record, but its painful autobiographical elements mean he has mixed feelings towards it. “The most painful thing in my life these days is the cult around ‘Pinkerton’,” he once said. “It’s just a sick album, sick in a diseased sort of way.”
Courtney Love – ‘America’s Sweetheart’ (2004). Courtney’s never been one to mince her words, so it’s little surprise that she was the ringleader of the critics who declared that ‘America’s Sweetheart’ was a disappointment. “The sound sucked beyond words,” she said in 2006, adding that it was a “mistake” and “really crap”.
Captain Beefheart – ‘Strictly Personal’ (1968). The psych maverick’s 1968 record has often been a controversial talking point. Although he was initially supportive of producer Bob Krasnow’s use of a phaser on many of the songs, he later changed tack, claimed it had been done without his knowledge or permission and said that he detested them.
The Beta Band – ‘The Beta Band’ (1999). The Beta Band’s first three EPs were much-adored by critics, but their full-length debut was met with a decidedly more lukewarm reception by the band themselves, who described it as “fucking awful”.
The Who – ‘It’s Hard’ (1982). Record label meddling and too many cooks in the kitchen: that’s what made The Who’s ‘It’s Hard’ a disappointment, according to Roger Daltrey. “‘It’s Hard’ should never have been released. I had huge rows with Pete. I said, ‘Pete, this is just a complete piece of shit and it should never come out!'”
The Beatles – ‘Let It Be’ (1970). Blighted by rows and in-fighting – George Harrison, at one point, walked out after arguments with both Lennon and McCartney – the Fab Four weren’t too impressed with their finished product, either. McCartney, in particular, felt he wasn’t consulted about the decision to invite Phil Spector to help salvage the recording sessions.
At The Drive-In – ‘Relationship Of Command’ (2000). “I just find it the most passive, plastic… It’s the one record I still to this day cannot listen to,” declared Omar Rodríguez of At The Drive-In’s third – and final – studio album. “One of my only regrets out of everything I’ve ever done is the way that record was mixed.”
The Psychedelic Furs – ‘Midnight To Midnight’ (1987). Frontman Richard Butler has never held back about the Furs’ flawed fifth studio album. “We got horribly lost around the time of ‘Midnight To Midnight’,” he said. “We’d got ourselves out on a limb, unintentionally, and got too far away from what our roots were. “
U2 – ‘Pop’ (1997). Oh dear: even The Edge can’t find many positive things to say about U2’s below-par effort ‘Pop’. “A compromise project by the end,” said the guitarist. “It was a crazy period trying to mix everything and finish recording and having production meetings about the upcoming tour. If you can’t mix something, it generally means there’s something wrong with it.”
The Faces – ‘Ooh La La’ (1973). ‘Ooh La La’ was far from the Faces’ finest moment, and Rod Stewart doesn’t remember it fondly at all. He’d later claim he was misquoted, but Melody Maker reported him describing the LP as a “a disgrace” and “a bloody mess”.
The Clash – ‘Cut The Crap’ (1985). There are very few blemishes on The Clash’s record, but ‘Cut The Crap’ might just be one of them: a far cry from their best work, Joe Strummer was disheartened with the band’s line-up changes and the death of his parents. He later said he had “fucked off to the mountains of Spain to sit sobbing under a palm tree” rather than focusing on the LP.
The Velvet Underground – ‘Loaded’ (1970). The much-missed curmudgeon Lou Reed gave typically short shrift to the Velvet’s ‘Loaded’ album. Reed, who quit the band before its release, insisted that clumsy editing had ruined his best songs and admitted: “I just gave up on it.”
Oasis – ‘Be Here Now’ (1997). No-one is as scathing about Oasis’ overblown, bombastic third album as Noel Gallagher. His verdict? “The sound of a bunch of guys, on coke, in the studio, not giving a fuck. All the songs are really long and all the lyrics are shit and for every millisecond Liam is not saying a word, there’s a fucking guitar riff in there in a Wayne’s World stylie.”
Blur – ‘Leisure’ (1991). Oasis aren’t the only Britpop heavyweights who have mocked their own wares, though. Damon Albarn has been very dismissive of their debut album ‘Leisure’, describing it as “awful”…
Blur – ‘The Great Escape’ (1995). Damon’s been similarly harsh on Blur’s ‘The Great Escape’, too. In 2007 he declared: “I’ve made hundreds of mistakes. I’ve made two bad records. The first record, which is awful, and The Great Escape, which was messy.”
The Beach Boys – ‘MIU Album’ (1978). Mike Love claimed studio sessions were “too democratic”, but Denis Wilson had even harsher words for both the LP and his old bandmate. “It’s an embarrassment to my life,” he sniped. “It should self-destruct… I hope that the karma will fuck up Mike Love’s meditation forever.” Harsh words.
Deerhunter – ‘Turn It Up Faggot’ (2005). Does anyone on the planet speak as brilliantly, and honestly, as Bradford Cox? Of course not. “I hate that album, I really do,” was his retrospective assessment of ‘Turn It Up Faggot’. “There’s lots of embarrassing stuff.”
The Rolling Stones –’Their Satanic Majesties Request’ (1967). One of the messiest Stones albums, and the band themselves agree. “There’s a lot of rubbish on ‘… Satanic Majesties’,” said Mick Jagger. “Just too much time on our hands, too many drugs, no producer to tell us, ‘Enough already, thank you very much, now can we get just get on with this song?'”