In an essay posted on the site today, I make the argument that even with streaming first listens of new records becoming a music industry standard, actual conversation about work from new bands and career artists has somewhat waned due to the trouble ong-playing records have breaking into the easily digestible, quick-hit news culture of the Internet. There are always exceptions, of course. I mentioned the return of My Bloody Valentine, back from 22 years of tinkering, but the last week or two has given us another couple of examples in this vein. The surprising returns of Justin Timberlake and David Bowie to record-making have sparked quite a lot of conversation indeed. (A Bowie example here, Timberlake there.) Timberlake sat out 6 years of his prime, Bowie went 8 years without a new record, while suffering and recovering from a heart attack. Their respective returns have sparked in ways that the most recent records by pop legends like Prince and Madonna did not. So, is that what it’s going to take going forward? Be really really famous, disappear long enough for everyone to miss you, and then just put the record up all of a sudden so everyone can tune in.
2013 is actually unusually loaded with high-profile returns that could totally blow up. We’re expecting new records from The Knife, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, and M.I.A. (Go, 2013!) With the possible exception of Daft Punk those probably won’t matter much to the culture at large, but all are notable, influential acts who’ve all been out of the public eye for a second. But we’re daydreaming about a BIG DEAL here. Who else is out there who’s been out of the album business long enough to dive back in and make a instant splash?