Good for Adele, she’s managed to find a way to make money out of her misery. The ‘25’ singer has had her worth of mournful eyes and heart-felt hand gestures over three albums, but the public continue to lap it up so who’s to blame her? While we’re pleased that she’s casting the black band of mourning away, in doing so she’s disregarding the grand tradition of the Break-Up Album.
1 Noah And The Whale, ‘The First Days Of Spring’
Between the blue and yellow, and before the beards, Charlie Fink had a (much-publicised) break up with his former backing vocalist. Who happened to be Laura Marling. With track titles like ‘My Broken Heart’, and lyrics like “I’m still here hoping that one day you may come back“, it’s clear to see that he didn’t take things too well.
2 Blur, ’13’
‘13’ saw Blur back away from Britpop, ditching ‘Country House’ for ‘Coffee and TV’. The cause of the change was Damon Albarn’s break-up with Justine Frischmann- the lead singer of Elastica. From lead single ‘Tender’’s refrain of “Oh my baby/Oh why?” to ‘No Distance Left To Run’s opening couplet “It’s over/You don’t need to tell me“, it’s a record of realisation and rehabilitation.
3 Spiritualized, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space’
Written after lead singer Jason Pierce’s girlfriend Kate Radley had run off to secretly marry Richard Ashcroft. ‘Ladies And Gentlemen…’ brims over with heart-rending pain. Opening with Pierce’s mournful refrain of “All I want in life is a little bit of love to take the pain away/Getting strong today“, and featuring appearances from the London Gospel Choir, the production is overwhelmingly lush – cocooning the man lost in the middle of it.
4 Fleetwood Mac, ‘Rumours’
It may have been recorded in California, but this album is all British. The emotional circumstances behind the recording of ‘Rumours’ are well documented. Originally titled ‘Yesterday’s Gone’, it documents the break-down (‘The Chain’) before the break-up (‘Go Your Own Way’) of a relationship – followed by the ongoing belief in love (‘Don’t Stop’). The affairs, betrayal and drug use that contributed to the making of the album may have taken their toll, but the music remains perfect.
5 Phil Collins, ‘Face Value’
Even though Phil Collins came out of the womb looking middle-aged, he certainly deserves his place on this list. ‘Face Value’ was his debut solo album after Genesis, and a direct result of his recent divorce. Collins had married actress Andrea Bertorelli, had a son with her, and adopted Bertorelli’s daughter. And then she had an affair with their painter and decorator. It certainly puts album opener ‘In the Air Tonight’ in a different light. “Well I was there, and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes. So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been, It’s all a pack of lies“.