We take a look back at the albums from a much simpler time…
I don’t know why we’ve picked the year 2002. It’s not a year that stands out for music, aside from giving us the greatest cover of all time (Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt, if you were wondering).
The UDS bunch like having strong opinions on things, though; so without further ado, we present some of the most underrated albums of 2002, as chosen by us.
One by One – Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters are one of the biggest bands in the world, and for good reason. Across their career, they’ve crafted one of the best greatest hits collections the world has ever seen, their live shows are renowned for how stellar they are, and their ability to not take themselves too seriously has led to an image which suggests that they’re just a bunch of cool dudes you’d love to go and barbecue with. They’re a band who, generally, don’t seem to have put a foot wrong – even when it comes to their studio albums, each has been well received upon release, even if no one is necessarily clambering to hear the new songs in a live setting.
One of the albums that garners perhaps the most mooted response in the Foo’s back catalogue is 2002’s One by One. A quick glance at the track list will immediately show highlights and live show staples in the form of the songs All My Life and Times Like These, both much-loved songs by Foo fans and Rock music lovers the world over. Aside from that though, not many tracks will immediately jump out to a casual fan. Perhaps even a regular listener would choose to skip most of this album, as I certainly did for the first few years of my Foo fandom.
They would, however, be wrong to do so because this album is superb! The heaviness and intensity of a track like Low is a brutal shock coming as early as it does in the runtime, even immediately after All My Life it knocks you off-kilter. Have It All and Overdrive are simple but standout Rock songs showcasing the songwriting talent on offer within the band, and both are excellent additions to any Summer playlist you make. The more melancholic Tired of You breaks up the album with a tense and menacing track which makes you question whether it’s a love song or the inner monologue of a stalker waiting to pounce. The album ends with Come Back, a supremely underrated track in the Foo’s oeuvre which clocks in at nearly 8 minutes and proves to be an experiment with genre the band have never really gone all in on again since.
If you’re a fan of Foo Fighters and have been ignoring One by One, there’s no better time to revisit than right now. I made the choice to give it some real time last year, and I gained an appreciation for it that I think I’d been indoctrinated to believe was unearned. I love it.
Maladroit – Weezer
The longer Weezer’s career continues, the harder it becomes to pin down what their legacy is going to be. They’ve been a huge Rock band in the 90’s, they were nerdy favourites in the 00’s and then in the 2010’s they became something of an experiment in which every new album they release seems to take on a new flavour or genre. As a Weezer fan who isn’t willing to ever write them off as some have, I find myself impressed with their work ethic nowadays, even if their output usually doesn’t excite me as much as I’d like it too. The last Weezer album I really loved was 2016’s White Album (just writing that year down has really surprised me – how is it nearly 6 years old already?!?).
What I’m trying to say is, at this point it’s hard to say what is truly underrated or even overrated in Weezer’s catalogue. We’re all basically unanimous on the first 2 albums and their brilliance. Most fans seem to love 2001’s Green Album, too. Then, it becomes the wild west until the near unanimous praise of The White Album, following which it’s all up in the air again.
2002 is home to the first of Weezer’s many divisive albums, Maladroit. While well received upon release, in the present day amongst the many releases that Weezer now have under their belt, it feels like an album that’s perhaps been a bit lost under the mountain. The best way to describe Maladroit would be that it’s the typical Weezer song formula but with a Heavy Metal sensibility to the riffs. Honestly it works great, and writing this in 2022 I honestly now view the album as something of a sibling to 2021’s Van Weezer (which isn’t as good, in typical present day Weezer fashion, but does have a few solid tracks)
Standout tracks include the singles Dope Nose and Keep Fishin’, the latter of which is my favourite Weezer song incidentally (although I will fight to the death telling everyone that the Music Video version of the song far exceeds the album version. And no, it’s not just because I adore the Muppets). Other highlights include Take Control, Fall Together and Burndt Jamb – which is a lovely mellow offering with a Metal injection halfway through which explodes in your face so satisfyingly – alongside basically the rest of the track list. Whether you’re a Weezer fan or not, I’d highly recommend going back and giving Maladroit either a first listen or a relisten. It’s very much a hidden gem, even if it’s not quite up there with Weezer’s best.
Ideas Above Our Station – Hundred Reasons
The debut album from the band that would help set the template for British alt-rock for the next decade or so, Hundred Reasons’ Ideas Above Our Station still sounds as fresh and vital as it did 20 years ago.
Somewhat a response and challenge to the braggadocious worst of the nu metal movement, this was a much more authentic, engaging take on alternative music. There’s no pretence, posturing or faux American accents – this is a group of lads from Surrey crafting the best songs they can.
And boy, are they good songs. The three lead singles, I’ll Find You, If I Could and my personal favourite Silver all give you a flavour as to why many bands cite Hundred Reasons as direct influences. You’ve got soaring choruses, evocative lyrics and enough bite to balance out the more sombre moments.
But after you use these tracks as a gateway into the album, I implore you to check out the rest of it. In a relatively brisk 38 minutes, you’ll be transported on a journey of emotion that achieves the seemingly impossible – accurately portraying the adolescent experience without ever feeling cringey!
It’s no surprise that lead songwriter and vocalist Colin Doran is now educating the next generation of aspiring musicians on how to make it in the industry – his body of work as part of Hundred Reasons and beyond speak for themselves.
Irony Is a Dead Scene – The Dillinger Escape Plan
Is including an EP in an article all about albums cheating? Perhaps. Am I going to do it anyway? You bet your sweet bippy.
When avante garde metal outfit The Dillinger Escape Plan parted ways with vocalist Dimitri Minakakis after the release of their debut album Calculating Infinity, it could’ve spelled a premature end to one of the most exciting bands of the late 90s.
Fortunately, spearheaded by the crazy genius of lead guitarist Ben Weinman, they had the neat idea of hiring rock legend Mike Patton as a temporary stand-in behind the mic. Honestly, I don’t know why more bands think of getting Mike on the blower.
But in all seriousness, this odd pairing of musical experimentalists created something very special. The 2002 EP Irony Is a Dead Scene might only consist of four tracks, but manages to achieve more than many albums can with 11+.
If you only know Mike Patton from his time in Faith No More, you’re in for a loud awakening. From the opening note of Hollywood Squares, you’re in for an explosive ride that demands to be played at full volume.
Oftentimes the weird time signatures, staccato guitars and aggressive beatboxing have more in common with jazz than traditional metal, but like those Magic Eye pictures, you have to take a step back to appreciate how the seemingly discordant elements come together to create something that just works.
I’m glad Dillinger went on to work with permanent vocalist Greg Puciato, as it resulted in one of the most intriguing and critically acclaimed discographies in modern metal, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this timeless musical oddity.
Also, shout out to the cover of Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy for making one of the most disturbing songs ever recorded sound even more unsettling.
The Coral – The Coral
As far as debut albums go, this is one of the best. A wild mix of folk, reggae and psychedelic rock, it sounds like The Doors and The Clash catapulted into the 21st century. The whole album is packed to the gills with experimental styles, all brought together by lead singer and songwriter James Skelly’s iconic voice and fantastic lyrics.
Legendary Brit rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand would follow a few years later, and you could argue that The Coral laid a significant part of the groundwork. Yet the only song to stand the test of time would be the absolute banger Dreaming of You, thanks in part to its feature in an iconic Scrubs scene. It’s certainly the highlight, but each and every song is a delight – this one’s definitely worth revisiting.
In Search Of… – N.E.R.D
Another debut album here, propelled by the sheer audacity of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. After a decorated background as The Neptunes, producing gold for the likes of Justin Timberlake and Kelis, N.E.R.D changed the game with their fusion of funk rock and hip-hop. It’s an unexpected, thrilling rollercoaster of an album, and regardless of which genre they mostly lean towards, almost every song slaps. Particular praise goes to Truth or Dare, Rockstar, and Run To The Sun.
The key appeal of In Search Of… (and N.E.R.D in general) is the idea that anything goes. N.E.R.D opened the door for dozens of modern hip-hop artists from Brockhampton to Tyler the Creator to incorporate seemingly disparate styles into a wholly unique sound. N.E.R.D wouldn’t hit the mark this successfully until four albums later with 2017’s No One Ever Really Dies, but if their process produced only this one album, it’d be worth it.
Wow, there were some CHOICES in there! Be sure to add us to your RSS feeds for more of the best music, movies and TV from the year 2002, and also every other year we decide to pick. If you liked this article check out of suggestions for 2004, 2007 and 2011 whilst you’re at it!