While listening to the great new reissue of Travis’ debut album, Good Feeling, I got to thinking about some of the best pop and rock debut albums to come out of the United Kingdom over the past few decades. There are countless British, Scottish, and Irish bands and albums that have shaped the course of music over that time. Here are a few of my favorites that I’m still spinning consistently.
Travis – Good Feeling
Take one listen to Travis’ Good Feeling and get ready for a wonderful trip back in time. Released in 1997, the album was a precursor to the international success that would come upon release of Travis’ sophomore effort, The Man Who. However, there is so much to love about their debut. It’s clear the amount of influence that the band and this record has had; you can make the connections as soon as you start listening. Good Feeling is home to several hits showing both the softer and edgier sides of the band on tracks like “More Than Us” and “All I Want To Do Is Rock.”
While Good Feeling was not my introduction to Travis, it certainly has come ‘round to be one of my favorites in their discography. It has also finally received the vinyl treatment it deserves this year from Craft Recordings. This is the first vinyl reissue of Good Feeling since 1999 surprisingly, and the first ever reissue to feature the original vinyl artwork. Produced by Steve Lillywhite and with lacquers cut at Metropolis Studios in London, the sound quality is superb. I’m really happy to see this classic Britpop album make its way into so many vinyl collections again. Buy at Amazon
Keane – Hopes and Fears
When I first heard the music of Keane back in 2004, it was like a breath of fresh air. I was 14 at the time and really starting to develop my taste in music. Growing up on heavy doses of guitar-driven classic rock, it was really inspiring to hear the band’s piano-centric compositions. Hopes and Fears remains one of the best-selling albums in Great Britain for good reason. Tom Chaplin’s incredible voice propels the excellent songwriting by the band as a whole. There is no shortage of addictive pop hooks on this record. The lead single “Somewhere Only We Know” is one of the great anthems of the last twenty years. In my opinion, Hopes and Fears sounds quite timeless and perhaps it is for that reason that I don’t feel much nostalgia when I listen to it. The album finally got a repress in 2017 and is now a lot easier to find on vinyl. If you’re a fan of British pop music, Hopes and Fears definitely needs to be in your collection. Buy at Amazon.
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
When I think of Arctic Monkeys’ debut, one word comes to mind – bonkers. That’s what the release of this album and quite frankly that time for music in general felt like. Released in February 2006, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not quickly became the fastest selling debut album in British music history. The album absolutely blew up online at a time when digital music and downloads were really hitting their stride, which is undoubtedly one of the many reasons it made it so big. I even built an Arctic Monkeys website for my high school web mastering class that semester. The hype was real. I was lucky enough to see the Monkeys in June 2006 on their first U.S. tour, and the energy on display on stage that night is something I’ll never forget. While the band’s music has taken on many different forms over the years, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not will always represent the core of the Monkeys’ style for me – witty lyrics, fantastic songwriting, and an unabashed attitude. Buy at Amazon.
Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club burst onto the indie rock scene in 2010 with their debut Tourist History. “Something Good Can Work” was the first track I heard off the record that immediately hooked me into the band’s vivacious sound. “What You Know” would go on to become the biggest hit and one that has stood the test of time – I heard it as the backing music for a video on TikTok this week. Full of up-tempo drumbeats, swirling synth, and punchy guitars, the music has a real urgency about it, a theme that was not uncommon at the time (other bands that come to mind are Bloc Party and Foals). Tourist History is an all-around feel-good record, a great one to put on whether you’re feeling down and need a boost or want to elevate an already joyous moment. Buy at Amazon.