Second ThoughtsThe ubiquity of second album syndrome.

Second ThoughtsThe ubiquity of second album syndrome.

  • Words Alice Vincent
  • Photograph Lauren Bamford

When basking in the glory of a breathtaking debut, it can be difficult to imagine that it may ever be otherwise. But what comes up must come down. “Second album syndrome” is a whispered curse in the music industry, born of the theory that artists spend short lifetimes pouring their creative energies into a debut album, only to have to match that success with a second one bashed out in the midst of life-changing fame, touring and great expectation.

Famous examples of the sophomore slump include Room on Fire, the rather predictable follow-up to the Strokes’ genre-changing debut, Is This It?, the Stone Roses’ underwhelming Second Coming and the Who’s not-hasty-enough A Quick One. But the same rule applies even to Queen Bey. Beyoncé’s first solo album, Dangerously in Love, rem...

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