The Most Consistently Inconsistent Musicians of Our Time

Consistency is the watchword in the world of music criticism. We as listeners love it when a band is at its best, but we aren’t truly happy until the musicians prove their worth again and again and again. And then maybe just once more still, after the lead singer emerges from a nasty coke habit and the band hasn’t been in the same room for three years. Of course, we forgive our favorite bands for the blemishes in their legacies every single day, because the statistics majors inside all of us understand that consistency is no small feat. But what of the bands whose discographies are marked by the exact opposite — those alternating, dramatic peaks and valleys in album and even song quality? Why, we’re glad you asked! We’ve compiled eight musical wildcards that have kept us on our toes with each note they’ve produced they put out after the jump. Be sure to join us in some collective head-scratching by giving us your own suggested additions to the list in the comments.

Green Day

Does a person who enjoys the entirety of the Green Day repertoire exist? Last we checked, we could only get our hands on those who were “into their old stuff” or find said “old stuff” way overrated. And, they’ve got a point: Green Day produced two albums in the early 1990s that made them underground punk heroes, only to be labeled sellouts when they struck popular (and Grammy!) gold with Dookie in 1994. In 2000, they took a nose dive with Warning, an album which Rolling Stone summed up with the question: “Who wants to listen to songs of faith, hope and social commentary from what used to be snot-core’s biggest-selling band?” As it turned out, pretty much no one.

Green Day abandoned their punkier roots and flirtation with optimism entirely when they rose to pop-punk (and Grammy!) fame with American Idiot in 2004, an album with singles so catchy that just about everyone stopped caring just how saccharine their brand of rebellion had become. Their most recent album 21st Century Breakdown didn’t make as much of a splash culturally or critically as American Idiot (that is, no Broadway show), but their next album is in the pipeline and we know the only thing we can expect is the unexpected. And some hardcore guyliner.