The dreaded second record – For many musical groups and artists, it is a very hard choice and a very hard task to pull off - whether to replicate the sound of the first record or take the next step in musical growth. In recent years this seems to be especially hard for two man or woman synth pop groups.
La Roux – Their self-debut debut was maybe the best recent record that was retro synthpop inspired. Fun and extremely catchy. Songs like “I’m Not Your Toy” and “Bulletproof” really swing and are given full reading by talented frontperson Elly Jackson. Sadly, on their second album, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, the hooks are watered down, much of it fails to grab me – It doesn’t help that the three best songs are at the end of the record (Tropical Chancer, Silent Partner, Let Me Down Gently) .
Little Boots – Boots debut, HANDS, had a cheeky power with an attitude that never pushed out the music and plenty of danceable choruses. Like La Roux, she took a few years between her first and second records. The songs on her second release NOCTURNE while still displaying much attitude fail to deliver the hooks and the end result while not completely terrible is forgettable mostly.
Quadron – Danish duo Quadron ‘s first self-titled record was funky but also extremely edgy held at the mercy of jagged strings and unexpected vocalizing – A haunting record. The second record AVALANCHE took an R&B connection further perhaps too far allowing the synthetic watering down of today’s black music to eat at their own sound. The singer Coco O was now trying to sing with an exaggerated inner city accent and the inclusion of a rapper and a few other hip hop elements doesn’t help.
However, there have been two examples where the second album has worked for these type of artists. I offer in response to the above....
The Beauty Room – The beautiful debut from the duo of Kirk Degiorgio and Janadu featured strings so warm and all encompassing that one could tie them from a tree like a hammock and lay inside them. Their second record VOL 2 kept this up along with the gorgeous effortless vocals and adding in little bits of technology and more guitar and keyboard for an album that is equally brilliant.
Electric Wire Hustle – These soulful New Zealand guys improve on the sound of their first self-titled record on their second LOVE CAN PREVAIL. Vocalist Mara TK’s resemblance to Marvin Gaye is even stronger here and the creative electronic backing tracks bring out the music even more. Among the tunes, Loveless in particular stands out as an ultra soulful representative of the rest of the record. A second album that is actually better than the first.