This 2-week dive into the albums ranked highest by critics in 1992 has been a bit discouraging. I’ve discovered a whole lot of murky and loud alternative rock that, for my money, is best left in the dustbins of history. Also a couple of rap albums and an extended disc of ambient noise.
So I’m happy to finish the span with a refreshingly melodic and resonant cut from k.d. lang. Lang followed her country crossover masterpiece Absolute Torch and Twang with 1992’s Ingenue, a full-on dive into adult contemporary territory.
I’m swiftly realizing that while 1992 was an important year for me personally, it was kind of a shit year for music.
To be fair, I listed my ten favorite 1992 albums and covered a lot of excellent ground (any year that includes R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People can’t be all bad).
But the critical consensus around the albums I haven’t heard is amounting to a great big disappointment. My look back at 1982 unearthed a few gems I quickly downloaded. No such luck this time around.
Other than Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, the rap album that showed up on the most year-end lists in 1992 was The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde.
This is the debut album of a Los Angeles rap band that still performs today even though their last album came out a decade ago. in contrast to Dre’s focus on drugs and gang-banging, this album (and group) lean more toward ribald humor.
This trip back to 1992 has resulted in the same experience on repeat — encountering an album by a band I know very well by name but not at all by sound.
Sonic Youth and Thurston Moore sound as familiar to me as The Lemonheads and Evan Dando, but again I can’t name a single song. I know that Moore sang backup on R.E.M.’s Monster, an acknowledgement of his band’s influence on the Athens alt-rockers.
The Lemonheads are familiar to me by name, if not by sound. And the name of bandleader Evan Dando is extremely familiar despite my knowing none of his music. I guess these are just things you pick up by osmosis.
The Lemonheads’ fifth album, It’s a Shame About Ray, was one of the most celebrated releases of 1992, praised as one of the era’s finest alternative pop-rock records.