Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in March 2024

Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in March 2024
Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in March 2024 Copyright Fiction - Polydor / Stones Throw / Interscope
By David Mouriquand
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

From lush Mancunian rock-pop to sinister synth-metal, via the greatest hip-hop album ever made, here's our pick of the three albums celebrating a major anniversary this month.

ADVERTISEMENT

Every month of 2024, Euronews Culture takes a trip down memory lane and handpicks a trio of albums celebrating a major milestone.

(January's trio, in case you missed them, can be found here and head here for February’s picks.)

These are the three records you should choose to (re)discover as they respectively turn 10, 20, and 30 this March.

Turing 10 in 2024: Elbow – The Take Off And Landing of Everything

(Release date: 10 March 2014)

Elbow - The Take Off And Landing Of Everything
Elbow - The Take Off And Landing Of EverythingFiction - Polydor

Despite releasing some of their best work since 2001, Manchester rock band Elbow, led by Guy Garvey, had a huge mainstream breakthrough in 2008 with their fourth album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ and its 2011 follow-up ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’. Their blend of lush chamber-pop became stadium-ready, with the overplayed wedding song ‘One Day Like This’ and the terrific ‘Grounds For Divorce’. Anyone who’s ever seen them live can attest to their capacity to put on a rousing and goosebump-invoking show.

This month sees the 10th anniversary of what is their most underrated and most accomplished record - ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’. It isn’t ranked as highly as their debut ‘Asleep In The Back’ (2001) or their chart topper ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, but their 2014 effort was the culmination of an entire career. 

Not as immediately accessible as a lot of the band’s output, 'TTOALOE' (as no one calls it) is a slow burning masterpiece that gradually unveils its many charms. Soothing yet downbeat, the album reflects heartbreak and major changes, as many of the band’s members were either going through break-ups or welcoming littluns at the time. Garvey himself had just split up with his long-term girlfriend during the making of the album, which led him to pen some of his most poignant lyrics. 

Not that it’s a glum affair, as the general mood veers more towards the romantic, with a smattering of bittersweet realities that can temper grand gestures. It's all rather captivating.

The strangely ominous ‘This Blue World’, the emotional swell of ‘Real Life (Angel)’, and the sweeping majesty of ‘My Sad Captains’ (which has become a live favourite for set closing purposes) all stand out. But it’s the stirring ‘Fly Boy Blue / Lunette’ and its crescendoing orchestrations leading to a softer second half that impresses the most. The gently spoken existentialist musings in the ‘Lunette’ side never fail to provoke chills. The good kind.

What can be said of the cigarette smoked
A prop for a joke or a mark on the clock
If I stopped would the bus ever come
Would the dawn ever kiss me, forgiven me, knowing what's done
Would the drivel make scribble make sense and then song
Would the woodbines denied black another man's lungs
Perverse as it may sound I sometimes believe
The tip to my lips just reminds me to breathe

'TTOALOE'’s follow-up, 2017’s 'Little Fictions', was perfectly fine, but since then, they’ve fallen off the radar. ‘Giants of All Sizes’ and ‘Flying Dream 1’, while at times boasting mellow vignettes, failed to satisfy in the same way as some of their earlier records. 

The band releases their 10th studio album, ‘Audio Vertigo’, later this month (22 March), so fingers crossed. But 'The Take Off And Landing Of Everything' remains their last, truly great album.

Also turning 10 in March: Future Islands’ fourth album ‘Singles’.

Turning 20 in 2024: Madvillain – Madvillainy

(Release date: 23 March 2004)

Madvillain - Madvillainy
Madvillain - MadvillainyStones Throw

Where to begin with the wonder that is 'Madvillainy'? It is widely regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop albums ever made. And for good reasons.

Missed cult rapper Daniel Dumile aka: MF DOOM and funk sample master / producer Madlib created the perfect alchemy, and their only album together under the moniker ‘Madvillain’ was a bold and creative step for underground hip-hop.

Experimental, brimming with wordplay, and nothing short of an ode to creativity, it defies categorization in many ways. Upending mainstream conventions and melding classic samples with an innovative flow and off-kilter beats, the sonic textures here have not aged one bit. Tracks like ‘Accordion’, ‘Figaro’, ‘Fancy Clown’ and ‘All Caps’ are ones for the ages, and the album’s strength lies in its deliriously exciting blend of top-notch MCing and spontaneous lyrical mastery.

This forward-thinking and eclectic album represented the future of hip-hop in 2004. Twenty years later, it remains not only one of the genre’s greatest, but one of the best records of all time.

ADVERTISEMENT

There’s not much more to say – except that if you haven’t taken the time to listen to ‘Madvillainy’, please do. That or slip like Freudian, your first and last step to playin' yourself like accordion.

Also turning 20 in March: Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous debut; Amp Fiddler’s stunning ‘Waltz of a Ghetto Fly’; ‘Misery is a Butterfly’ by Blonde Redhead; Sufjan Stevens’ underrrated ‘Seven Swans’; The Streets’ swaggering concept album ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’; ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ by Iron & Wine.

Turning 30 in 2024: Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

(Release date: 8 March 1994)

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward SpiralInterscope

Trent Reznor and his outfit Nine Inch Nails seemingly popped out of nowhere in the late 80s, and NIN hit hard. The band’s tormented industrial rock boasted invasively personal lyrics and some fist-pumping anthems, quickly making NIN one of hard rock’s most treasured properties.

When it comes to picking their best album, it's usually a toss-up between debut 'Pretty Hate Machine' (1989) and the band’s sophomore album ‘The Downward Spiral’. For our money, it’s the latter – and how convenient, since it reaches a major milestone anniversary this month.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bragging what is essentially the perfect fusion of metal and synthpop, it’s a semi-autobiographical record from Reznor, one that swallows you whole. Its themes of drug use, sex, suicidal thoughts, political rage are all set to stellar riffs, pummelling drums, and some dark vocal deliveries. And it's... a lot. Raw, visceral and bleak are descriptives that come to mind, but the strangest thing is that for an album so uncompromising in its gloom, it’s oddly invigorating.

You won’t find many perfect unbroken sequences than the first seven songs on the album – featuring the chaotic ‘Mr. Self Destruct’, the powerful ‘Heresy’, the thrashy 'March of the Pigs' and, of course, the primal ‘Closer’ - which was used for the opening credits of David Fincher’s Se7en.

In many ways, this could have been the entire soundtrack to Se7en. That’s the unsettling tone we’re dealing with here.

Elsewhere, towards the end of the album, you have ‘Hurt’, which was covered by Johnny Cash several years later. To qualify the original as gut-wrenching is putting it mildly. 

Not the best listen if you’re feeling fragile, but if you’re in the mood for an abrasive, gut-punch of a record, Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Downward Spiral’ should be your first port of call. Thirty years since its release, and it endures as one of the rawest rock masterstrokes ever.

ADVERTISEMENT

Also turning 30 in March: Another seminal rock-grunge album, Soundgarden’s ‘Superunknown’.

Share this articleComments

You might also like