As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I love a band with a big back catalogue. There’s nothing quite like discovering a whole new seam of great music to devour and trying to decide what route you’ll take through it all; it’s even better when your new favourite band is still active, because you know there’s even more good stuff to come.
Today’s piece is about the exact opposite of that. Today, I’d like to talk about three bands who only released one album before breaking up or just disappearing and never surfacing again. Where some LPs are puzzle pieces that constitute only a small part of the discography’s broader picture, these three albums stand alone, each one making a single, concise statement that the artists concerned presumably never felt the need to expand upon.
Without further ado, then, here are three of my favourite one-album wonders:
Manifest! by Friends (Released 2012)
I’ve been listening to this album quite a lot over the past week or so. Every song sounds like it could have been a single, perhaps because the album’s ever-changing sonic palette makes every track stand out. That said, most of Manifest! is predominantly percussion-led, which appropriately enough makes the album sound like a bunch of friends gathered in a big warehouse to bang drums, shake tambourines, and sing some songs together.
Lyrically, Manifest! covers quite a lot of ground: Friend Crush is simply about wanting to friends with someone and Sorry is about wanting to be more than friends, but Ideas on Ghosts gets all deep with musings on death and I’m His Girl is a full-blown manifesto for how to have a healthy relationship with someone. Friends split up not long after releasing this debut LP, but by including loads of different sounds and pondering loads of different topics,Manifest! manages to be an extremely fulfilling listen that does indeed give us a very rounded impression of what frontwoman Samantha Urbani must be like to be friends with.
Standout Tracks: Sorry // Ideas On Ghosts // I’m His Girl.
Clor by Clor
Clor were bonkers. Their music sounded like this:
They messed with time signatures a lot and sang about angst and relationships and stuff. For a short period in 2005, it briefly seemed like they might be really big; then they went their separate ways with only a single, self-titled album to their name. If you fancy reading more, Laura Snapes wrote a pretty cool 10th anniversary article aboutClor for the NME last year; to read it, click the dickens here.
Standout Tracks: Love + Pain // Stuck in a Tight Spot // Dangerzone
Impressionist Road Map of the West by The Secret Show
Y’know Matt Davies, the singer from Funeral for a Friend? The Secret Show was his guilty little country-music side project. Impressionist Road Map of the West came out in early 2007, and TSS played a few low-key shows to promote it, but since then it’s been all quiet on that front. Still, now that Funeral for a Friend have officially called it a day, perhaps Davies will find time to make a follow-up?
I have two clear memories of Impressionist Road Map of the West:
On the day this album was released, The Secret Show marked the occasion with a short live set in Spillers Records. I was stood right at the front of the crowd that gathered to watch them that rainy afternoon, and for some reason I decided to store my umbrella in a vacant slot in one of the shop’s CD racks (I think I wanted to free up my hands to take some photos – goodness knows why I didn’t just lay the umbrella on the floor in front of me). During a particularly heartfelt song called Two Drowned Rats in the Desert, my brolley fell out of the CD racks and clattered loudly to the floor, much to Matt Davies’s amusement, my horror, and – I imagine – everyone else’s extreme annoyance. I was glad that Spillers had sold me a pre-signed copy of the Impressionist Road Map CD earlier that day, because I was far too embarrassed to speak to Matt afterwards.
Towards the end of 2007, I fell ill. I found myself lying in bed with a terrible fever and Impressionist Road Map of the West playing on my parents’ DVD player. I was in and out of consciousness, but even as I was feeling like I was about to die, I remember thinking that the album was beautiful and that Two Drowned Rats in the Desert in particular was absolutely stunning. Remembering how I had ruined the song’s tragic atmosphere in Spillers back in February probably did very little to help me feel better at that moment, but nevertheless.
Standout Tracks: Two Drowned Rats in the Desert // We Blaze a Trail // The One That I Love
So those are some of my favourite one-album wonders – what are yours?
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.