Post Britpop: what is it and what are the best albums?
11 August 2020, 21:14 | Updated: 11 August 2020, 21:16
Were the years after Britpop a musical wasteland... or were they actually full of great songs?
What is “Post-Britpop”, exactly?
The accepted high water mark of the genre that was known as Britpop was most probably the two nights that Oasis played at Knebworth in August 1996.
Be Here Now, released a year later, was one of the biggest selling albums of all time - and yet it never quite achieved the same critical acclaim as the previous two LPs. Blur had moved away from the jaunty pop of Parklife and The Great Escape and had moved into darker areas. Other bands, like Elastica, failed to follow up the success of their earlier singles.
So what happened in those post-Britpop years? Between the Oasis shows at Knebworth and the arrival of the first Strokes album in the summer of 2001, when guitar rock got a savage kick up the backside, was it all drab bands playing beige music?
Radio X thinks not. Here are a selection of albums from that Post-Britpop period that have stood the test of time.
The Verve - Urban Hymns (1997)
Issued the month after Be Here Now, Richard Ashcroft’s band had been around since the early part of the decade, when their sound was pitched somewhere among the shoegazing guitar noisemakers. The group actually split in the summer of 1995 around the time of the excellent single History. When The Verve reconvened with new guitarist Simon Tong, the result was the stunning LP Urban Hymns. Led off by the peerless Bitter Sweet Symphony, it’s a collection of moving songs that stir the heart.
Stereophonics - Word Gets Around (1997)
Britpop had inspired hundreds of bands around the country, most notably this trio from South Wales, who finally made the big time when they signed to Richard Branson’s new label V2 in the summer of 1996. This classic debut is a thumbnail sketch of life in a small town - from local scandals, births, marriages and deaths and a particular turn of phrase that connected with the masses.
Embrace - The Good Will Out (1998)
Fronted by Danny McNamara, Embrace hailed from West Yorkshire and seemed to be set to follow in the footsteps of no-nonsense bands like Oasis, but they were more delicate souls than the Gallaghers. The singles come Back To What You Know and All You Good Good People could also be sung on the terraces, meaning that this was one of the fastest-selling debut albums by a British artist.
Gomez- Bring It On (1998)
Southport on Merseyside may not be the obvious place to find blues-tinged quirky rock, but Gomez made a huge impression with their debut, which picked up the Mercury Music Prize later that year, beating Urban Hymns by The Verve and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, Frontman Ben Ottewell’s gruff voice adds a touch of authenticity to sun soaked songs like Tijuana Lady and the weird 78 Stone Wobble, while the comical Whippin’ Piccadilly remains a favourite.
Catatonia - International Velvet (1998)
Based around the distinctive voice of Cerys Matthews, Catatonia had been releasing singles in Wales for around five years, before their second album went stellar. The X Files-referencing Mulder And Scully clicked with listeners, as did the Top 5 hit Road Rage. They never quite followed it up, however, but this was their moment.
Travis - The Man Who (1999)
After the moderate success of their 1997 debut Good Feeling, Glasgow’s Travis followed it up with a more delicate and pop-based set of songs. Fran Healy’s wistful voice was the key on songs like Writing To Reach you and Driftwood, but it was the anthemic Why Does It Always Rain On Me? that touched the festival crowds.
Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows (2000)
Forming in Edinburgh in 1995, the band’s first mini-LP Captain was a scratchy collection of punkish songs, but their full length debut Captain showed that the band had depth. The follow-up, 2000’s 100 Broken Windows showcased singer Roddy Woomble as he worked with the melodic noise of the band. The next album, The Remote Part, was their most successful, but this is Idlewild at their purest.
Coldplay - Parachutes (2000)
Hard to imagine now, after the stadium tours, the huge collaborations, the million-selling albums and the marriages to Hollywood stars, but Coldplay’s initial outing was a rather low-key affair at first. They had issued three non-hit EPs and Shiver had crept into the lower end of the chart at 35. But it was the release of Yellow in June 2000, Glastonbury weekend, that they set out on the road to become one of Britain’s biggest bands. The debut album is perfect - opening with the inspirational Don’t Panic and adding the heartfelt Trouble along the way.
Starsailor - Love Is Here (2001)
Named after an album by Tim Buckley (father of Jeff) and featuring the tremulous voice of James Walsh, Starsailor were cast as romantic, slightly troubled troubadours, as the bleak single Alcoholic proved. Good Souls and Poor Misguided Fool were also hits, making this a strong, much-loved album.