There are plenty of conflicting views over what makes an album title work. Some believe a succinct name delivers the strongest impression; some take the clever wordplay or double-meaning route; still others tie their titles in with some aspect of pop culture.
Then there are those who aim to take the most surreal, absurd or flat-out puzzling approach to naming their record. Today we look at 15 of the most unusual names ever bestowed upon an album.
15. Thomas Dolby — Aliens Ate My Buick (1988)
The ultra-campy, B-movie-styled cover says it all. Thomas Dolby released Aliens Ate My Buick after he made a brief foray into film, and he packed the album full of bold, over-the-top dance-pop songs that contrasted with the quiet, introverted nature of previous album The Flat Earth.
14. Omar Rodríguez-López — Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus (2008)
One of a half dozen albums the prolific guitarist released in 2008, Omar Rodríguez-López actually recorded Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus seven years previously in between the demise of At the Drive-In and the formation of current band The Mars Volta. Its title features oddball wordplay, and the music itself is equally strange, with some of the song titles reflecting its focus on the bizarre (“A Story Teeth Rotted For,” “Hands Tied to the Roots of a Hemorrhage”).
13. Final Fantasy — He Poos Clouds (2006)
Final Fantasy, the moniker for singer/violinist/songwriter Owen Pallett, focuses on highly conceptual baroque indie-pop, and He Poos Clouds is no exception. Aside from the album’s ridiculously goofy title, each of its songs correlate to one of the eight different “schools” of magic in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
12. Sparklehorse — Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995)
Even if the words were separated rather than mashed into a single word, Sparklehorse’s debut album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot would still be a head-scratching title. The seemingly random association of the words coupled with the creepy clown cover would suggest anything but a subtle musical journey, but that’s exactly what the album provides. Melancholy, sparse and atmospheric, it’s the blueprint for what would become sole member Mark Linkous’ trademark folk-rock style.
11. Of Montreal — Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007)
Of Montreal has always placed a great deal of emphasis on overly strange spectacle in its music, driven by singer Kevin Barnes’ quirky lyrical vision. The centerpiece of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” a self-described “turning point” that makes direct reference to the title, in which Barnes unleashes his Ziggy Stardust-like alter ego, Georgie Fruit.
10. Dredg — Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy (2011)
Endowed with creepy album art, Dredg’s newest album Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, which conjures images of a pair of demented Itchy-and-Scratchy-esque cartoon characters, also happens to be the band’s most perplexing and disappointing release. Instead of getting edgier and weirder as the title suggests, it finds Dredg ditching their moody art-rock in favor of an indistinct sound littered with electronic synths and beats.
9. Fiona Apple — When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king / What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight / And he’ll win the whole thing ‘fore he enters the ring / There’s no body to batter when your mind is your might / So when you go solo, you hold your own hand / And remember that depth is the greatest of heights / And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land / And if you fall it won’t matter, cause you’ll know that you’re right (1999)
Often referred to simply as When the Pawn…, Fiona Apple’s sophomore effort held the distinction of having the longest album title in music history for nine years (it was surpassed in 2008 by Chumbawamba). Apple’s lack of adherence to a title of traditional length runs parallel to the way she approached her music: Rather than stick to the confines of clichéd piano pop and rake in the millions, Apple turned her ambitions and talents inward, exhibiting a strong jazz influence and continuing to experiment, which has resulted in an unpredictable career.