Bands come and go like seasons— sometimes it's a slow burn, and sometimes it happens when you're not looking.
This decade had its fair share of all of it, from spurned ‘90s bands rising from the ashes of the grunge era, to bands that broke up and reformed, all in the same decade.
Here are our top seven picks for bands that all but disappeared into thin air, and soared right back.
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The Dangerous Summer
Pop punk was rather unforgiving in 2013. We can’t count on two hands the number of pop punk outfits that disbanded that year (we’re sure a few notable ideas come to mind)— and Maryland-bred four-piece The Dangerous Summer were no less vulnerable.
The band, which formed back in 2006, formally broke up in 2014 after the release of 2013's ‘Golden Record’, and dropped off of social medias shortly thereafter. But, after four long years of rest and relaxation, a newly-reformed band announced a surprise comeback album, ‘The Dangerous Summer’, released in 2018.
It was like time had never passed; the long four-year hiatus was arguably much needed for the band to come back refreshed and recuperated. Sure, it was jarring the way they virtually fell off the face of the earth, leaving one of their best works, ’Reach For The Sun’ (2009), to stand orphaned, but the distance made it even more special when they came roaring back.
Last year they graced us with yet another album, 'Mother Nature’, one that harnesses the same, liberating energy of camaraderie they'd grasped on their debut. And it was all wonderfully cathartic: the three piece is reportedly happier than ever, and so are we, as absence does make the heart grow fonder!
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Cue middle school and dancing to 'A-Punk' in your bedroom— those were quite some times. For a band that seemed to be on everyone's summer playlists, it was a wonder we allowed almost six years to go by with no new releases, no status update on the band's standing.
Vampire Weekend remained suspended in the ether, silent, as they fell away from playlists in favour of mainstream's growing love for rap and hip-hop. But this year, the six-year-long wait came to a swift end. The five-piece has finally returned with electro-rock banger, 'Father Of The Bride', a folsky, alt-rock offering that strikes a delicate balance between nostalgia and new beginnings.
Vampire Weekend are back, and they have unfinished business.
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The Jonas Brothers
Successful Disney pop comebacks are hard to come by. But the Jonas Brothers are an anomaly. One couldn’t get enough of the three-piece brother-band in the late aughts and early ‘10s, but the group met their untimely demise somewhere around 2013, breaking up due to creative differences.
But this year, the Jonas Brothers have come roaring back, in a comeback that arguably capitalises off of this generation’s hyper-forceful nostalgia for all things early 2000s. In celebrating their brilliant new album for all its worth, it’s important to remember what could be one of the most important aspects of their continued success: the JoBros were a rock band before they were Disney stars.
When it’s the other way around, it can be difficult to find the footing for what to come back on: once you’ve left Disney— or rather, Disney has left you— you and your fans begin to realise that there wasn’t much substance behind your music, and it fades quickly into oblivion as you fade into whatever vice kept you afloat during those stressful, Disney Channel days.
But the Jonas Brothers— who instead disappeared before disaster in the middle of a reunion tour for an album they would never finish— avoided this fallout completely. Couple that and the fact that two-thirds of the JoBros managed to always remain somewhat in the limelight, and you have a perfect recipe for a pop-rock comeback.
Their latest offering, ‘Happiness Begins’, is a smooth, electro-rock record whose sweet lyrics harken back to their teenage heyday, and 2019 celebrates the 10th birthday of their last studio album. ‘Happiness’ did, in fact, ‘Begin’ this year.
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The Smashing Pumpkins
It’s difficult to call this a one comeback in the grand, theatrical sense, but having the full 1991 lineup (well, minus D’arcy) of the band behind culturally infamous ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ certainly counts as something. The 2010’s did see some arrangement or another of the Smashing Pumpkins release two albums and an EP— but unfortunately, nothing lived up to the hype of their late ‘90s heyday, when Oasis was on the radio and the Spice Girls on TV.
It took all but 17 years for Billy Corgan and Co. to finally reunite for a massive tour cycle in 2018, as well as for their first new album (mostly) together in nearly two decades, but it’s never too late for a reunion. 'Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future'. 'No Sun.' (2018) was a humble, solid display of capability and harmony after quite some time, and an excellent indicator for what’s to come next in the 'Shiny and Oh So Bright' album series.
It’s only up from here!
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Living up to genius is a task often fraught with difficulty, and it's a job made even harder when the genius was entirely your own. Slowdive is one such band. An entirely unlikely renaissance, 1992's favourite shoegaze rockers just about rose from the ashes of a nearly-forgotten underground scene, bringing with them into the limelight a culture prematurely forgotten.
With a breakup entirely too early, Slowdive fizzled out quick— 1994 saw the release of their second album, 'Soulvaki', to great acclaim, but come 1995, with the release of their then-last album 'Pygmalion', the group were suddenly at the mercy of the notoriously fickle British press that had now chosen to bestow their favour on Britpop.
By the mid ’90s, the mainstream pull of shoegaze (and underground altogether) was quickly fading, with British magazines looking elsewhere, and the young five-piece was swiftly dropped from their label.
But Slowdive are back for more. Not forgetting their massive influence on dream pop and shoegaze to date, Slowdive take themselves as influences on ‘Slowdive’, a record that floats in weightless bliss through a perpetual 1992, when Britain’s underground music scene matched that of a white hot summer: blistering, promising, and endless.
2017’s ‘Slowdive’, a self-titled nearly thirty years coming, perhaps again exists in the shadow of whatever’s mainstream these days, but with a more forgiving musical landscape and a more nuanced audience, Slowdive has a second shot at greatness. They’re already well on their way.
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Although Frou Frou’s “comeback” came merely in the form of a single released back in April, anything from them is worthy of uproar. Debuted during Heap’s Mycelia World Tour, the single, 'Guitar Song (Live)', an unfinished demo from their scrapped second album, had been teased for release almost ten years ago.
Now that it’s finally hit, we can definitively say that 'Guitar Song (Live)' transports us right back to their first and only album, 'Details'. It’s a departure from their usual, theatrically-produced track (re: this was acoustic), but the melodic quality still brings on a whole body experience that makes you stop for a second and feel everything.
Nothing in fact has changed; it has the delicate production quality of one of the softer songs from Details (“Hear Me Out”, maybe), but with the novelty of a new beginning. A live recording of the single now lives on Spotify in all its beauty. If you don’t know who Frou Frou is, that’s understandable.
They’re a bit of a deep cut: their only album, 'Details', was released in 2002 to not much noise, and the next two years saw the duo’s untimely disbandment that was quickly overshadowed by the rise of Heap’s career as a solo artist. ‘Details’, their 10-track debut, was a stunning display that was borderline too short, taking electro-pop at its best and making merry of heavily-produced digitalised tunes. Their split was entirely too premature, their run far too short before we were ever able to see the heights to which they could have taken the project.
If they created such a high quality body of work in just five years together, imagine what could have been done with just a few more. While the pair have remained amicable since the split, and reunited for Heap’s 2018 Mycelia World Tour, we have yet to receive word that another album is in the works.
We can add that to our music wish-list for 2020 and beyond; thankfully the pair has never ruled out a full-fledged return.
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My Chemical Romance
Where were you when MCR announced their split? Were you like me, in middle school, emo beyond words, eyes glued to your phone when your tumblr feed blew up with the news? Did you listen to 'Welcome to The Black Parade' one last time before realising you’d never, ever see My Chemical Romance live?
After a nearly seven year hiatus, during which conspiracy theories loomed about and dedicated fans never lost hope, Halloween 2019 marked one of the greatest days of a MCR fans’ life. The four were returning for good, and were having a reunion show. On sale for less than a few minutes, MCR fans came out of the woodwork for the show at LA's The Shrine, and come Dececember 20th, the band performs old hits with a renewed vigour that makes it clear they know how to look back, while simultaneously looking to the future.
The five-piece released what was then their final album, ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’, in 2010, before a series of single compilations in 2012 and touring one last time to say goodbye. There was no argument, no bruised skin, no clashing of creative differences— just a general feeling that time had run out and it was time to call it quits.
“It wasn’t an easy thing to come to,” said frontman Gerard Way in 2013 of the band’s split, especially since the band had come to develop an intensely devoted online fandom. “It was sad, because it wasn’t a situation where anybody hated each other. It was nobody’s fault.”
It was obvious there was no bad blood. At LA's The Shrine, the energy was just like old times, with fans waiting since before dawn just to be close to the band that had saved their lives. Those who had grown up with them were years older now, but still knew every word to 'Welcome to the Black Parade', thirteen years on. From the performance, down to the meticulous planning that went into the comeback— fans say they went to great lengths to emulate the timeline of the Smashing Pumpkins breakup— the band takes the cake for best, thought out comeback of the decade.
Like TSP, they'll be the talk of the town for years to come, and we're excited to see the force they bring for their long-awaited fifth album.
Fun fact: It was Joe Jonas who accidentally leaked the news of MCR’s return after they ran into them at the studio in early May.
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Words: Valerie Magan
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