By Mimi Norton
You never get a second chance to make a great first im- pression. That’s why, in the music industry, so much de- pends on bands’ debut albums. Often, these first albums can make or break a band.
Albums like Pavement’s “Slanted and Enchanted,” The Velvet Underground and Nico’s self-titled album, The Strokes’ “Is This It,” and Weezer’s “Blue Album” are just some of the hundreds of debuts that critics and fans agree are these bands’ best work. With these strong starts in mind, I’m going to revisit two of my favorite debut albums of the past few years.
“Rips” by Rips
The first is the eponymous album by a band called Rips. They’re a Brooklyn-based four-piece who claim to draw inspiration from two iconic rock bands: Television and The Feelies. “Rips” is an album on which each song carries itself on its own, but the album also has a really nice co- hesive style. Produced by Austin Brown of Parquet Courts, the album is reminiscent of Parquet Courts’ style of frank singing (often, the vocals sound closer to yelling rather than singing) over crashing drums and guitar.
Not only is their instrumentation really impressive, but their lyricism confirms their abilities as songwriters. Rips are not just another group of wannabe rockers messing around in a basement. Delivered with a charming dead- pan style, their lyrics speak to universal truths and prove that while they seemingly have it all together on the out- side, they still struggle with self-discovery like the rest of us.
The lyrics that begin the first song on the album, “Los- ing II,” are: “Been searching since ’91 / Scared of think- ing ‘bout who I’ve become / ‘cause I don’t wanna break my mom’s heart.” These lyrics are so honest they’re funny. They speak to the same process of self-realization that all young twenty-somethings go through, but it’s more poi- gnant because at a time when their other peers are finding office jobs, they’re passionate about being musicians and admit to putting it all on the line. I think once you listen to this album, you’ll agree they most definitely didn’t disap- point their mothers.
“Aromanticism” by Moses Sumney
The second album I want to highlight is Moses Sumney’s “Aromanticism.” Having already been featured on songs by Sufjan Stevens, Karen O, and Solange, among others, he had high expectations to meet for his debut.
I’d argue his first album is perfect. It’s intimate, atmospheric, and overall, it’s a delicate meditation on the meaning of love in his life, which is the opposite of what you might expect. As you can tell by the title, “Aromanticism,” the album critiques the way our culture idealizes romantic love. At the time Sumney wrote the album, he said he’d never really experienced “full-blown, romantic love” — thus, the album focuses on his loneliness more
I’d argue his first album is perfect. It’s intimate, atmospheric, and overall, it’s a delicate meditation on the meaning of love in his life, which is the opposite of what you might expect. As you can tell by the title, “Aromanticism,” the album critiques the way our culture idealizes romantic love. At the time Sumney wrote the album, he said he’d never really experienced “full-blown, romantic love” — thus, the album focuses on his loneliness more than anything.
Sumney’s beautifully precise vocals are enhanced by understated drums and soft acoustics that make “Aromanticism” one of the most sonically beautiful albums I know. A flawless product of three years of work, this album is a special gift to all listeners.
The song “Doomed” serves as a centerpiece to the al- bum. The lyrics ask the question: “Am I vital / If my heart is idle? / Am I doomed?” It’s here where Sumney really re- veals his feelings of isolation and unworthiness, as he compares himself to the rest of society in which everyone else is seemingly happily in love. When you’re feeling lonely, give this album a play.