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?
If there's any band left whose continued absence is just bugging the shit out of everybody, it's Outkast. Their last record, the two-solo-albums-but-we'll-bundle-them-together compromise Speakerboxx/The Love Below came out almost a decade ago! And it was massive! They still play "Hey Ya" at weddings all the time! They've been circling around each other on the guest verse circuit for years, and showed up "together" on a remix of Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter" in January. But we really just want Andre 3000 to just give in and consent to a proper Outkast record, with both dudes on every track. If it showed up as a grand embeddable surprise? Pandemonium.
Like My Bloody Valentine obsessives before them, Neutral Milk Hotel fans have mostly come to terms with the fact that their reclusive alt-rock hero may not release new music, ever. But mbv happened, and Mangum has been playing live gigs for years now, so unlikely things seem more possible all the time. The surprise drop of a new NMH record would have even more impact 15 years after In the Aeroplane Over the Sea than a more conventionally timed follow up would have. Even venturing out into public more frequently, Mangum remains a mysterious figure but his influence has been increasingly evident in cool and huge bands like Arcade Fire, and trickled down to terrible but huger bands like Mumford and Sons. Even April Ludgate, Aubrey Plaza's impressed-by-nothing character on Parks and Recreation is a vocal super fan. An unexpected new record would lead to lots of emotions, probably some gifs.
LCD Soundsytem frontman James Murphy made such a big deal of his band's retirement that he'd risk losing his precious edge entirely by announcing a just-kidding LCD record out of the blue. (Not that we wouldn't freak out. We'd freak out.) But you figure all this guest-producer, late night DJ stuff can't cut it forever. He's bound to release music again at some point, right? A James Murphy solo pop record (basically what LCD albums were) would have some serious juice, especially if it's another four or five years in the making.
OK, I'm rolling my eyes a little at this one too, but Dre's "final studio album" Detox has been rumored and delayed so many times over the past decade that it's actuality would be a big enough to demand that we all dive in immediately. Even without the chronic delays (ugh, sorry) his return to the spotlight after years of Beats by Dre boardroom success is a natural news story, and Dre's clearly still got enough clout to rope in the biggest acts of the day. A finished version of Detox will be full of cameos from the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, and whoever else blows up in the time it takes him to finally pull the trigger. Also, keep in mind that his 2011 return single and rumored album inclusion, "I Need a Doctor" hit the Billboard top ten, charting higher than anything he'd released since 1993. It's just going to be super unavoidable.
As evidenced by the gingerly lowering of Stone Roses onto this year's Coachella headline, we're running out of storied bands to reunite and take all of our ticket-buying money. But as the scarcity of meaningful reunions gets greater, even more ungodly sums of money might rattle loose. The improbable could happen. What if a surprise Smiths reunion and comeback album materialized, streaming from your laptop? Listen, it won't, but we definitely would not shut up about it for a good long while.
Daydreaming about more reasonable personalities, how about a Talking Heads revival? David Byrne has kept creatively restless, Tom Tom Club still play shows. A reconciliation and new material would lead to a lot of essays about their enduring art-rock legacy in ways that a deluxe reissue would not. And, this wouldn't be a truly earth-shattering for a few years, probably, but what if on some gloomy Monday of the future, we all got word that Sonic Youth had gotten back together (professionally, at least, but maybe in love) and delivered a surprise streaming album? Surely worth a tweeted "Awwwwwwww :)."