Music/Features

Dear bands, enough with the mystery album countdowns

Panic! at the Disco, The 1975, and Arctic Monkeys and Twenty One Pilots, we're looking at you.

May 14, 2018

Life in 2018 is stressful. We’re not making enough money to save for our futures, climate change is melting the polar ice caps, and… y’know, the constant looming threat of nuclear war. In times like these, I find myself turning to music even more than usual for solace and comfort, as I’m sure many others do as well. Having new music released from bands I love can be something positive to look forward to, and something lighter to discuss with friends. It’s even more exciting if a band goes above and beyond, creating an immersive experience or surprise around the release.

However, there is one problem with this scenario: there’s a very fine line bands have to walk between creating a fun surprise and creating more stress for no reason. The bands that are currently about to start new album cycles were last releasing music in a different world. 2014-2016 feels like a whole different lifetime. We could handle a little mystery with our music, checking in every day to see if anything new had arisen. But now, it just feels overwhelming. Right now, there are bands hanging out on either side of that divide, so it’s time to break down the good, the bad, and the infuriating from all guilty parties.

Twenty One Pilots

Tyler & Josh ended the Blurryface era nearly a year ago and disappeared off the face of the earth. We’ve all been speculating on what’s to come, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the elaborate internet scavenger hunt that’s currently underway. This Reddit thread summarizes everything that’s been found up until this point, and there’s a ton to read through. DEMA, Clancy, Keons, not trusting the compass, hidden photos on a weird website… it would be fun if I weren’t so suspicious. Multiple times now, we’ve been given the impression that the hiatus is over, just for things to go silent again. 3 weeks ago, weird phrases appeared on their webstore that seemed to hint at an announcement the coming Friday but nothing happened.

I’m a big fan of albums with a storyline or lore, but I wish we had a little concrete info in the middle of it all. Give me a first single so I can start to connect all of this random information to something tangible. Otherwise, what am I digging for? I want to believe, but I need a sign that they’re not going to… fake me out.

Panic! At The Disco

More like Potatoes! In The Mail, am I right? Fans who pre-ordered the new album started receiving Mystery Potatoes in the mail, complete with lyrics written in Sharpie or photos of Brendon Urie stuck to them. I prefer my potatoes in french fry form, but this is an idea I can get behind. It’s mysterious and weird, but is happening alongside the release of new music and activity from Beebo & co. This feels more like a random happenstance within an album release, instead of stringing us along to the next announcement. Which reminds me…

The 1975

This one hurts, especially since we’ve already been through it once before. The first time they blacked out their socials and changed from monochromatic to pastel… I felt that. It was fun and exciting. But that also started in October 2015, which feels like a different lifetime. We could stand a little mystery with our music. But the moment I saw it start again, I felt a void open up where my heart used to be and I immediately disconnected. Life is too stressful to do this now.

Not to mention, the circumstances are different this time. At the end of the “I like it when you sleep…” era, the band announced that something related to “Music For Cars” would be happening on June 1st. We already knew the date we were waiting for. So when a countdown started on their website along with vague messages about negative aspects of social media… I was kind of hoping it was going to count down to something else. Maybe a single before a June 1st album release, or some sort of documentary about the making of Music For Cars. But no, the countdown is for exactly what I’ve already been counting down to since last year.

So let’s get this straight: The 1975 has created a vague countdown to a date that they already vaguely pointed us towards in 2017. And from what we know, this is the final project from The 1975. So my final memories will be of suffering silently while I wait to see what I’m suffering for.

Arctic Monkeys

YES. This is one band that got it right this year. After not hearing from them since 2014, they announced they started recording last year. Then, very suddenly and unexpectedly, they launched a preorder for Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. No singles, no mystery, just a sudden preorder. The album is out this week and we still haven’t heard a single thing from it.

It’s almost refreshing to give us so much information and no information at the same time. I know there’s an album on its way to me with song titles like “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip” and I have no idea what it sounds like. That’s the kind of mystery I want in 2018. I know there’s music and when I’ll have it in my hands, but the mystery lies in the creative work itself. This is the only release I’m truly excited about right now, because it’s the only one that feels real.

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