Is there anything more devastating than going back to an album and knowing it represents a sense of finality? Given the heartbreaking reality of band breakups, it happens way too often. Fortunately, when an album is worth its sentimental weight in gold, it softens the blow a bit.
Whether our favorite artists have parted ways after a dramatic falling out or simply gone on indefinite hiatus, it’s always cathartic to revisit their final releases—even if it hurts. Of course, some bands have gone out on higher notes than others.
Here are 10 of the best (and so far) final albums dropped by alternative bands.
Yellowcard – Yellowcard
There’s no saying that Yellowcard didn’t give us a proper goodbye. While their 2016 breakup announcement proved devastating to the alternative music scene, the advanced notice ahead of their self-titled album release and final world tour softened the blow. Truthfully, we couldn’t have asked for them to go out on a better note. The record was hauntingly eclectic and experimental, dishing out goodbyes we weren’t prepared for but very much appreciated.
The Needles The Space – Straylight Run
Straylight Run gave us an impressive catalog over a relatively short tenure—and one that’s held up beautifully against the test of time. Even so, their sophomore (and final) full-length, The Needles The Space, is criminally overlooked as it stands in the shadow of its self-titled predecessor. The album brings their unique brand of anthemic emo energy in full force, driving it home with vivid lyrical narratives. Fortunately for fans, it wasn’t the last release prior to their 2010 hiatus, but we still think that it deserves more retroactive recognition.
Forget What You Know – Midtown
No one can deny that Midtown took the scene by storm. In just seven years, they released three studio albums under a series of prominent labels. Their final, Forget What You Know, marked their debut under Columbia Records. It’s now regarded as one of their most iconic releases, boasting popular tracks such as “Give It Up” and “Empty Like The Ocean.” While we would have liked to see where the band’s rapidly growing traction might have taken them, we can’t be too mad about their 2005 breakup. After all, Cobra Starship did rise from the ashes to catapult vocalist Gabe Saporta into the forefront of scene fame.
Goodbye Blues – The Hush Sound
When Pete Wentz signed the Hush Sound to Decaydance in 2005, we had no idea that we’d only get a few active years with them. Unfortunately, their masterpiece of a third album, Goodbye Blues, seemed to make good on the title’s promise. While their jangly brand of indie rock certainly could have entranced us for at least another decade, we’re thankful that they left us with such a dynamic and stunning display. The band broke their hiatus temporarily in 2012 and dropped three singles the following year: “Scavengers,” “Not A Stranger” and “Tidal Wave.” However, despite some sporadic touring over the last decade, they have yet to drop another full release.
Push And Shove – No Doubt
Gwen Stefani didn’t outright squash the possibility of a No Doubt reunion during a recent Apple Music interview. So, we’ll continue to hold on to hope that maybe the band’s 2012 album, Push And Shove, wasn’t truly their final. Admittedly, though, if their hiatus does turn out to be a permanent breakup, this record is a great send-off. It’s a marked divergence from their ska-punk foundations, leaning heavily into the synth-laced pop sound that Tom Dumont, Adrian Young and Tony Kanal took to DREAMCAR. A culmination of two decades’ worth of sonic exploration and progression, no album could have better concluded the band’s journey together. At least so far…
The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On – Automatic Loveletter
Any scene kid remembers anxiously waiting for Automatic Loveletter‘s 2011 acoustic album, The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On. If we’d known at the time that it would be their final release, though, maybe we wouldn’t have fallen off the edges of our seats in anticipation. This was a bit of a confusing breakup, seeing as it coincided with vocalist Juliet Simms‘ incredible stint on The Voice. And seeing where Lilith Czar is now, we can’t help but feel that it all worked out in the end. Thankfully, the record gave us a showcase of visceral, emo sentimentality to soundtrack our nostalgia.
Fast Times At Barrington High – The Academy Is…
Fast Times At Barrington High admittedly proved quite a bit controversial among the Academy Is… fans. Looking back, though, the band’s third studio album shouldn’t have been nearly as divisive as it was. Though it diverged from the gritty darkness of Santi, the record took the band back to their early pop-punk roots with a radio rock twist. Perhaps it was a bit more mainstream for the scene at the time to accept, but truly, we couldn’t have asked for a better final album. Just imagine a world in which you’d never heard “About A Girl” or “Summer Hair = Forever Young.” Yeah, no thanks.
The Good Life – Stereo Skyline
There were quite a few Myspace-era bands that greatly outlasted the platform’s popularity. Unfortunately, Stereo Skyline only stayed present a few years past its prime. Unlike the site with its fizzling popularity, though, the band went out with a notable bang. Their second and final album, The Good Life, truly showed off all the neon-pop vibes they had to offer. While the record was a hard goodbye for a while, the band did eventually soften the blow in 2019 when they released a single with Hamptons, “Runaway’s.”
The Papercut Chronicles II – Gym Class Heroes
“It wasn’t supposed to be the last!” we scream as we throw ourselves dramatically against the floor. The robotic voices in “Kid Nothing And The Never-Ending Naked Nightmare” speaks ominously in the background. Had it not been for “some Yoko Ono-type situations,” as recently described by vocalist Travie McCoy on Chris DeMakes A Podcast, Gym Class Heroes wouldn’t have stopped at The Papercut Chronicles II. That said, they could’ve played it off as intentional, and we never would’ve known. The record plays brilliantly off their 2005 album, calling back with references while still showing off their progression into radio staples alongside the likes of Adam Levine. Fortunately, fans can both soak up this perfect conclusion and still know what could have been. As it turns out, McCoy intends to put out what would have been their next record as a solo release sometime this year.
Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain – The Venetia Fair
The Venetia Fair are the epitome of a band that broke up way too soon. But isn’t that the way the story always goes in alternative music? Their aggressive take on Panic! At The Disco-like theatricality would have been truly appreciated well into the modern era. However, we can’t be upset that they left us on a high note with Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain. Their final album embodied their dynamic range, taking everything we knew about post-hardcore and running it through a circus filter. We have to wonder if it even could have been topped. But knowing the Venetia Fair, they would have found a way.
What are some of your favorite final albums in alternative music? Let us know in the comments below!