Artists are often the least honest judges of their own work.
After all, if you’ve spent upwards of 18 months struggling in the studio you’re unlikely to be able to formulate a sentence in your local newsagent, let alone an objective thesis about a highly personal work of art.
So news that Grimes detests ‘Art Angels’ perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Sure, it receives universal acclaim on its release but Claire Boucher now refers to it as “a piece of crap” and “a stain on my life”.
But she’s not alone – music is littered with about-turns, retrospective dismissals, and harsh judgements, with the musicians themselves often becoming their severest critics.
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Nav - Reckless
Nav is currently American rap’s flavour of the month, his new album ‘Bad Habits’ sending streaming records tumbling. Except it wasn’t always like this - the reception to his 2018 debut 'Reckless' rendering the rapper speechless, with fans weighing in to criticise his work.
Later, he realised he simply hadn’t given the album the attention is deserved. “I handed in that last album like homework,” he told Pitchfork. “I was caught up in the lifestyle, having new money. Some of the songs on that album I didn’t even touch like I normally would, no beats, no arranging the mixes.”
“When I saw the reviews from fans and on websites, I realised I could really lose everything,” he added. “I would never want to be known as a shitty artist.”
Follow up ‘Bad Habits’ stayed true to his intentions – it soared to top spot on the Billboard charts.
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Ride – Carnival Of Light
Ride’s opening run placed them at the shoegaze vanguard, with those initial EPs and their glorious debut album ‘Nowhere’ practically setting out the template for androgynous, bowl-cut, effects pedal bothering sonic beauty. ‘Leave Them All Behind’ cracked the Top 10, and for a while there it seemed as though Ride could genuinely crossover.
But then came ‘Carnival Of Light’. The sessions were fractious, the creativity dimmed, and the results were half-baked. It’s the point where it all went wrong, and is commonly referred to by Ride themselves as ‘Carnival Of Shite’.
Follow up ‘Tarantula’ did even worse. Named after Bob Dylan’s famously incomprehensive amphetamine-fuelled ramble/novel, it was deleted after just one week.
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Oasis – Be Here Now
Oasis at their pomp were a swaggering, all-conquering beast. Kids from Manchester who became – for a brief period – the biggest rock ‘n’ roll phenomenon on the planet, they entered the studio to record their third album with the wind beneath their wings, and inordinate praise from both the public and the critical community in their ears.
Except it all went to their heads. Released in 1997, ‘Be Here Now’ was a lengthy, bloated, grandiose affair, at times almost seeming like a pastiche of the band themselves. A historic fast seller, it also earned the dubious title of being the record most handed in to charity shops.
Noel Gallagher had an almost immediate disregard for the record, telling press at the time it was “bland” and “fucking shit”. He later labelled ‘Be Here Now’: “The sound of a bunch of guys, on coke, in the studio, not giving a f*ck. All the songs are really long and all the lyrics are sh*t and for every millisecond Liam is not saying a word, there's a f*cking guitar riff in there in a Wayne's World style.”
Brother and vocalist Liam Gallagher, however, thinks “it fucking rocks”.
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The Beach Boys – The M.I.U. Album
The Beach Boys may well have been American pop’s blue eyed boys, but their intense, pained personal relationships are the stuff of legend.
Released in1978 ‘The M.I.U. Album’ was dominated by the spectre of Mike Love, whose opposition to the innovations of Brian Wilson – which he has since disputed – have long since earned him the ire of fans and history books.
At the time of this album Mike Love was undergoing an investigation into transcendental meditation, which seemingly explains the lacklustre feel of their AOR meets MOR music.
Dennis Wilson shortly afterwards: "It's an embarrassment to my life. It should self-destruct. I hope that the karma will fuck up Mike Love's meditation forever."
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The Strokes – Angles
The Strokes emerged as doe-eyed new wave classicists, whose debut album ‘Is This It?’ blazed a trail for a million Converse clad, definitive article bands to follow.
‘Angles’ was released in 2011, a time when the tide had long since gone out on the indie boom, leaving countless groups gasping for air on the bone dry shore.
The troubled recording sessions barely masked the tensions in the band, with Julian Casablancas stating that ‘Angles’ contains “a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have done”.
Nick Valensi perhaps had the most visceral reaction: “I won't do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful—just awful.”
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Lykke Li – Youth Novels
Lykke Li is a pop paradigm, part of a generation of Scandinavian musicians who have demolished the pop handbook. Debut album ‘Youth Novels’ was a mature first offering, produced by Bjorn Yttling and praised by everyone from PopMatters through to The Times.
The Swedish artist herself has little time for the album, branding it little more than juvenilia. Speaking to the Telegraph in 2014, she said bluntly: “I cannot stand my first album. It is so bad. I sucked.”
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Black Sabbath – Never Say Die
Black Sabbath spent most of the 70s in a drug-induced, de-tuned haze, inventing heavy metal, touring across the world, and boozing themselves into oblivion. As the decade finished, it became time for the band to pay up their psychic bill, and Ozzy Osbourne bore the brunt of it.
Recorded as the band was finally falling to pieces, ‘Never Say Die’ remains a low point for everyone involved. Ideas were either absent or deliberately withheld, while the sheer scale of the band’s towering chemical addictions may the title more than a little ironic.
Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t look back on this period in his life with any fondness, telling fans that ‘Never Say Die’ is "the worst piece of work that I've ever had anything to do with. I'm ashamed of that album. I think it's disgusting."
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