It’s a familiar experience. There’s that one mind-blowingly great album you just can’t get enough of, an album of epic proportion. Then one day you learn that this beloved artist will be releasing a new album. A sense of dread-tinged anticipation overcomes you. Any potential trace of hopefulness that it just might live up to your expectations is overshadowed by the bleak probability of impending disappointment. It’s not that all follow ups to great albums are necessarily bad, it’s just that there’s a certain discomfort in knowing that we’re going to have to move on and adapt. That’s the way music works; sometimes for the better, and sometimes not. We’ve put together a list of ten earthshaking rock albums that were impossible to follow up, often resulting in a derailment, a reinvention, or a fade-away.
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
Holding the number two spot in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, Pet Sounds represents the commercial culmination of Brian Wilson’s experimental proclivities. But due to the subsequent strain between Wilson’s increasingly avant-garde tastes and Mike Love’s more conservative pop sensibilities, The Beach Boys were never able to recapture the magic of Pet Sounds, securing its place as perhaps the most notoriously impossible album to follow up.