The best Debut Albums of all time

20 February 2019, 16:12 | Updated: 22 February 2019, 17:34

Which bands hit the ground running first time out? Here's our selection of the greatest debut albums in indie and rock history from Arctic Monkeys to The Stone Roses.

  1. The Smiths - The Smiths

    The band weren’t entirely happy with the finished product, but as a statement of intent, this eponymous debut is pretty spot on. Out of tales of murder in Manchester and disfunctional relationships, Morrissey carves his unique worldview and Johnny Marr makes beautiful music to carry it.

    The Smiths debut album cover artwork
    The Smiths debut album cover artwork. Picture: Press
  2. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

    Sometimes quiet and vague, sometimes tense and angry, Bloc Party’s opening salvo is a fully rounded creation with such great songs as Helicopter, So Here We Are and Banquet. The compositions are so strong, they released a remix album that’s every bit as good as the original.

    Bloc Party - Silent Alarm album cover
    Bloc Party - Silent Alarm album cover. Picture: Press
  3. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses

    Effortlessly fusing dancefloor rhythms with classic jangle guitar, plus a soupçon of psychedelia, this supremely confident debut was an instant classic from the ponderous I Want To Be Adored to the closing I Am The Resurrection.

    The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
    The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses. Picture: Press
  4. Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album)

    Weezer were almost a reaction to grunge. American rock made by the REAL outsiders – the nerds and the geeks, given a voice via the medium of power chords and singalong choruses. Rivers Cuomo’s persona was a fascinating meld of mathematics student and idiot savant and the hits (The Sweater Song, Buddy Holly) sit comfortably alongside some great album tracks (In The Garage, Surf Wax America).

    Weezer debut album cover artwork
    Weezer debut album cover artwork. Picture: Press
  5. Oasis - Definitely Maybe

    Literally, a generation-defining debut album. It ushered in Britpop, Cool Britannia and took the country out from the shadow of American-dominated rock. And what tunes! Supersonic, Live Forever, Cigarettes And Alcohol, Slide Away…

    Oasis - Definitely Maybe
    Oasis - Definitely Maybe. Picture: Press
  6. Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album)

    Weezer were almost a reaction to grunge. American rock made by the REAL outsiders – the nerds and the geeks, given a voice via the medium of power chords and singalong choruses. Rivers Cuomo’s persona was a fascinating meld of mathematics student and idiot savant and the hits (The Sweater Song, Buddy Holly) sit comfortably alongside some great album tracks (In The Garage, Surf Wax America).

    Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album) album artwork
    Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album) album artwork. Picture: Press
  7. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

    Young Manchester punks lift off into space and create their own sonic landscape. Endlessly influential from the sparse, evocative cover to the looming baritone of the tragic singer Ian Curtis, the songs are dark thumbnail sketches.

    Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures album cover
    Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures album cover. Picture: Press
  8. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

    Where it all began. Young Yorkshiremen with attitude fronted by the greatest lyrical talent since Morrissey. Top tune: I Bet That You Look Good On the Dancefloor.

    Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not album cover
    Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not album cover. Picture: Press
  9. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights

    The New York post-punk revivalists issued their excellent debut album in 2002, which included PDA, NYC, Untitled and Obstacle 1.

    Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights album cover
    Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights album cover. Picture: Press
  10. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

    Lots of people were recycling old post-punk Gang Of Four riffs in 2004, but when Take Me Out dropped that year, we knew we’d heard something special. The classic, choppy guitar action on the album is accompanied by Alex Kapranos’s gentlemanly vocals, investigating romantic affectation and social ennui perfectly on songs like The Dark Of The Matinee, Michael and This Fire.

    Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand album cover
    Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand album cover. Picture: Press
  11. Royal Blood - Royal Blood

    Straight out of the traps came the Brighton duo with this ferocious collection of noise meeting melody. It hit the Number 1 spot in the album charts, too... Best moment: The swagger of Little Monster.

    Royal Blood - Royal Blood album cover
    Royal Blood - Royal Blood album cover. Picture: Press
  12. Kings Of Leon - Youth And Young Manhood

    We’d say that the Followills were “fresh-faced” when they made the aptly-named Youth And Young Manhood, but this is the Kings at their hairiest: leaving their Southern home behind, but wearing their roots on their sleeves. From the opening Red Morning Light, through Molly’s Chambers and California Waiting, this is classic rock and roll.

    Kings Of Leon - Youth And Young Manhood album cover
    Kings Of Leon - Youth And Young Manhood album cover. Picture: Press
  13. Florence And Machine - Lungs

    Watching Florence Welch evolve from performance artist to genuine pop diva has been a fascinating phenomenon, with Lungs the first step on the journey. What started as a conceptual project gained form and substance with Welch’s distinctive voice. The multi-layered sounds on tracks like Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and Cosmic Love make this a rewarding listen, with the excellent cover of You Got The Love a fine showstopper.

    Florence And Machine - Lungs album cover
    Florence And Machine - Lungs album cover. Picture: Press
  14. The Killers - Hot Fuss

    Cooped up in plastic Las Vegas, Brandon Flowers and his like-minded bandmates looked to the music of the UK for their inspiration. Hot Fuss is a compendium of the greatest moments of British rock through an American eye: sardonic, sincere, glamorous indie rock and roll. Songs include Mr Brightside, Somebody Told Me and the anthemic All These Things That I Have Done.

    The Killers - Hot Fuss album cover
    The Killers - Hot Fuss album cover. Picture: Press
  15. The Strokes - Is This It

    Rock and roll seemed dead and buried at the turn of the century, but these New Yorkers took the codes and cliches of the genre and gave them a Chelsea-booted kick up the arse. Hard To Explain, Last Nite, The Modern Age… all calls to arms for a new era.

    The Strokes - Is This It album cover
    The Strokes - Is This It album cover. Picture: Press
  16. Editors - The Back Room

    Tom Smith’s gruff baritone led many to pin Editors as some kind of gloom merchants, but this impressive debut is full of uplifting and athemic moments. The singles Bullets, Munich and Blood all ring with Chris Urbanowicz’s distinctive guitar and even at their bleakest – All Sparks, for instance – their music stirs the soul.

    Editors - The Back Room album cover
    Editors - The Back Room album cover. Picture: Press
  17. Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More

    Nobody thought that the neo-folk revival would produce a stadium-sized band, but Marcus Mumford and company proved us all wrong. Their honest, passionate and frequently moving music polarises opinion: but all good art should provoke such a strong and genuine response. Little Lion Man, Roll Away Your Stone and Winter Winds are all great singles, but the baroque pop of songs like Timshel complete the picture.

    Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More album cover
    Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More album cover. Picture: Press
  18. The Libertines - Up The Bracket

    When everyone was giving love to the new wave of post punk (or whatever we called it), Carl Barat and Pete Doherty gave a solid riposte to The Strokes and their ilk with this defiantly British album. The pair believed in a Time For Heroes and tapped into the dreams of the romantic poets and the low-rent appeal of punk, coupled with some peerless songwriting.

    The Libertines - Up The Bracket album cover
    The Libertines - Up The Bracket album cover. Picture: Press
  19. Kaiser Chiefs - Employment

    They’d previously tried and failed as Parva, so the Kaiser Chiefs project seemed like a last chance for the Leeds-based band. But with skilled producer Stephen Street, they produced an album of witty, keenly-observed and memorable tunes: Oh My God, I Predict A Riot, Everyday I Love You Less And Less are all great singles, while album tracks like Born To Be A Dancer and Saturday Night expand on their weary but often hilarious philosophy.

    Kaiser Chiefs - Employment album cover
    Kaiser Chiefs - Employment album cover. Picture: Press
  20. Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks

    It was a debut, but it was also their swan song. A band as reviled and revered as much as the Sex Pistols were too volatile to live and they were on their way out by the time their debut appeared. It was almost a full stop after a string of epochal singles, but John Lydon’s lyrical preoccupations were given free reign on album tracks like Bodies, New York and the record industry-bashing EMI.

    Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks album cover
    Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks album cover. Picture: Press
  21. Suede - Suede

    Suede were caught in the tidal wave of Britpop, but they always had that outsider vibe. Brett Anderson took the androgynous posturing of Bowie and the ambiguous lyricism of Morrissey and created something remarkable, with the help of guitar wunderkind Bernard Butler. Classic moments include So Young, Animal Nitrate and that provocative front cover.

    Suede - Suede album cover
    Suede - Suede album cover. Picture: Press
  22. Guns N'Roses - Appetite For Destruction

    In 1987, heavy rock music was poodle-haired Americans in lycra, ludicrous posturing and an unhealthy obsession with "chicks", Satan and having a good time, all the time. Enter GN'R, who brought a piece of gritty LA realism, a teaspoonful of punk and a streetwise attitude to the genre. Classic moments: Paradise City, Sweet Child O'Mine, Mr Brownstone, Nightrain, the lot, basically.

    Guns N'Roses - Appetite For Destruction album cover
    Guns N'Roses - Appetite For Destruction album cover. Picture: Press
  23. Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill

    Three New York posh boys chuck their guitars, take up hop hop and sample classic rock riffs, courtesy of producer Rick Rubin. Best moments: (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party), No Sleep Til Brooklyn.

    Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill album cover
    Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill album cover. Picture: Press
  24. Massive Attack - Blue Lines

    While dance music was veering off into rave territory, Bristol had a new direction to take: trip hop. The spine-chilling voice of Shara Nelson gives tracks like Unfinished Sympathy and Safe From Harm an unearthly lift. This was a bold, affecting and game-changing debut.

    Massive Attack - Blue Lines album cover
    Massive Attack - Blue Lines album cover. Picture: Press