5 Comeback Albums That Didn’t Suck
The “comeback album” is quite a loaded term. On the one hand, die-hard fans of a group that has been dormant for quite a while are usually thrilled by the idea of new music. But history has shown us that sometimes a long wait is a sign that some things are better left inactive (we’re looking at you, Axl).
Then sometimes an artist steps back into the spotlight and reminds the world why we cared about them in the first place – recapturing a beloved classic sound or pushing into a new and unexpected direction. Here are five comeback albums from the last decade that didn’t suck.
1) Portishead – Third (2008)
Poking their head above ground 11 years after the release of their self-titled second record, Portishead used the appropriately-titled Third to deviate from the trip-hop sound they had pioneered, embracing more rock and ambient sounds. If you were to listen to an instrumental version of the record, it might be difficult to even identify it as the same band. But Beth Gibbons’ signature haunting voice tied it all together, making it undeniably Portishead.
2) Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (2013)
Let’s not act as if people had forgotten about Justin Timberlake after the release of his FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006 – the guy was (and still is) one of the biggest stars on the planet. But acting pursuits and a general vibe that he was burned out by his first profession made it seem like he might not ever return to music. The singer smashed those misconceptions with an expertly-made, musically adventurous collaborative album with super producer Timbaland, yielding material that reinvigorated his status as possible heir to the King of Pop title while also helping to further develop and mature his sonic identity.
3) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)
The robotic French duo took it all the way back to the ’70s and ’80s with their first album (excluding some Tron soundtrack work) in eight years. Does it even need to be explained how successful this record was? Two words for you: “Get Lucky.” Outside of ubiquitous singles, Random Access Memories also had plenty of synth-heavy grooves that offered far more under the surface than you typically expect from dance-floor fodder.
4) D’Angelo – Black Messiah (2014)
The idea of a third D’Angelo record had become something of a myth/running joke in the music industry, as the soul singer’s career had taken quite a few odd turns and false starts in the time since his acclaimed second album Voodoo in 2000. All doubts were put to rest with his immaculate return, an all-analog affair that effortlessly mixed organic musicality, politically potent lyrics, and a killer live show.
5) A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)
Group strife. The sudden passing of a key group member. The fickle, ADD-ridden nature of hip hop fans. There are numerous reasons why the first A Tribe Called Quest album in 18 years should never have worked. But Q-Tip and company showed up ready to make their mark, creating a fascinating and much-needed record that shot them to the top of the charts and showed us how much we really missed one of hip hop’s favorite groups.