Albums that start off average and then get great + Great short/semi-formed/sketchy album openers

Two threads for the price of one about album openings as I think alone they don’t merit threads…and even together its a bit scraping the barrel…but…I was listening to Nils Frahm and after track 3 I was ready to file under pleasant but slightly dull - but it then really picked up through to the end to complete a strong album

Viet Cong by the band now known as Preoccupations is a brilliant LP and my love for it has grown with time…yet it opens with what i consider to be the weakest track and whilst Pointless Experience picks things up and March of Progress is intriguing and aesthetically fits well…it then takes a big leap from the last section of that song until the last throes of Death at the end.

…I was also listening to Experimental Jet Set by Sonic Youth this evening and remembered how much i love the sketchy Winner’s blues, I think the opener 'What’s in it for me" off Walkmen’s Bow and Arrows is incredibly memorable and moving even if it feels tonally very much like a curtain raiser for the Rat and the rest of that superb LP. Finally I have always had great affection for We Dance by Pavement off Wowee Zowee…even though its a very low-key way to open an album

(File under “good”)

I always thought “Drive” was an odd choice as opening track for R.E.M.'s “Automatic For the People”. Sometimes a slow track works well as an opener if it leads up to something or sets the mood, but “Drive” is not really that kind of song, It’s an OK song, but I think it should have been moved in a few tracks. that New Orleans Instrumental would have made for a good opener, but perhaps they were worried it would deter the casual fans who only listen to the first 30 seconds of an album before deciding whether to buy.

For me the last PJ Harvey album has a much stronger second half. This is unusual.

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For short album openers that effectively set the stage, the first thing that comes to mind is “The House that Guilt Built” by The Wrens.

Actually, if it’s not too long and too formed, “Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor” by The Eels immediately immerses you in the world of Electro-shock Blues.


I’m going to have to think long and hard about albums that truly start off average and then get great. But if we’re allowed to handle things relatively, the first thing that’s coming to mind is an album that starts off very good and then finishes so incredibly that it elevates it from “very good album” to “one of the few best albums of all time”: The Moon and Antarctica.

It really just keeps getting better and better throughout its course. That final stretch of “Lives” - “Life Like Weeds” - “What People Are Made Of” in particular is on a whole other level.

I disagree with pretty much all of that! I think drive is one of the finest songs on automatic, arguably the best, and it works brilliantly as an opener :slight_smile:

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I agree. Drive is a great song and a great album opener.


Well, obviously R.E.M. correctly guessed the majority view. :slight_smile:

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sorry paul! album gets good after this

It’s so strange that she doesn’t open with The Ministry of Defence. Would be a great opener and instead just sits a bit strangely as track 2.

The answer to the first question finally just dawned on me, it’s the King of Limbs. It starts off fine, but that Codex - Give Up the Ghost - Separator sequence is on a whole other level from the rest of the album.

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I actually think this applies to all the three Radiohead albums I own - The Bends, OK Computer and Moon Shaped Pool. None of those opening tracks are bad, it’s just that the awesomeness doesn’t really start until track 2 or later.

Strictly Inc


been listening to The Fall again a lot recently and reminded me that Re-Mit is quite a hit and miss album for the most part but then the last 3 tracks are excellent.

Yeah I guess. I just think the opening half isn’t that strong, partly I think because they sound like they’re still from Let England Shake but not as strong. But once it gets to “Near the Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln” it improves massively for me with different ideas and stuff and “The Wheel” is one of my favourite of her tracks.

Another one…the last Underworld LP - opening track and single which reminds me a bit of the Happy Mondays and Blur’s On Your own for some reason disappointed me but has grown on me…still weak for them…If Rah is a big mis-step although I know others liked it…its then a consistently strong, really lovely = head-nodding mid-down tempo deep rolling LP…

Brotherhood by New Order.

First few tracks are good and all but then Way Of Life>Bizarre Love Triangle>All Day Long>Angel Dust>Every Little Counts is :ok_hand: