Imagine being in Mumford & Sons. You formed a band, successfully co-opted another country’s musical history, and managed to produce a Grammy-winning record. You got to play with Bob Dylan and everybody and their college roommate is coming to your shows. Life is pretty great.
Then you realize that you can’t ride on that first record forever – you need to come up with some new music. Between the touring, the appearances on late-night talk shows and train trips across the U.S., it’s hard to find time to come up with ideas for new material. So what do you do? You take the same formula from your first album and record ten new tracks along the same lines. It’s enough to keep people interested and showing up at concerts, but you haven’t broken any new ground.
Oh well, maybe you’ll find some time next time you need to put out a record.
This is a story that has repeated itself since the beginning of pop music – the sophomore slump. But is the slump a figment of the collective imagination of music critics, or is there really a trend of bands putting out weaker follow-up records?