Rudi Cronje
Rudi Cronje

The difficult second album

An expression we’ve all heard before, I would think. Justified, as well. With anything decent, there is expectancy for something more, something healthier, somewhat more intuitive and at the end of the day just a plain bigger kick in the balls.

Learning from others in the industry, it has become clear that resting on your laurels or featuring in every ad on the telebox, does not increase credibility or polite references via blogs or Twitter. Laughing to the bank might be another fairytale altogether though.

This literally brings me to the difficult second album. Some in my time have done it hands tied behind their backs (Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight and Muse, to name a few) while others have failed more miserably than a Milli Vanilli cover band. (Feel free to use your own examples here. There are many.)

As our second endeavour starts to take serious shape, I can’t help but wonder what the reviews and reactions towards it might be. I guess it doesn’t matter, but the rollercoaster ride that the writing of an album brings is nothing short of exhilarating (as rollercoaster rides are designed to do since the beginning of the United States of Americaland).

Like olives in a pickle jar the songs feel out of place. More contrived than seahorses in stables they feel. Manufactured out of mounds of ear infections and heartbreaks they come across as. Not really.

The songs are so next level we’re convinced the record label is going to give us R10 million and a private jet. Producers are queuing like they want tickets for that game with the round ball that is not tennis happening not next month.

And this is where the problem lies.

As with any closely-knit creative team, Groupthink can be the biggest downfall and staying objective is about as easy as milking a male chicken. Who has ever cared what anyone says about your album though, right?

Besides the fact that it’s not pleasant to read that you’re something that other bands have forgotten on the kitchen floor, no one really. Most artists want to deliver products that get recognised and reach as wide an audience as possible, without losing credibility and as with any industry, music also has its nay and yah-sayers. You just deal with them. The deadly cocktail of downloads, album sales, playlistings, festival slots, music videos and top 10s can comfortably cause hangovers the size of the Namib Desert, unless you down a glass of impartial water to help swallow two apathy pills.