The 10 best 4AD LPs, and In the Flat Field only scrapes in at 9. Shocker.
In January of 1980, Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent teamed up to release a Bauhaus 7-inch called Dark Entries, and 4AD was introduced to the world. Thirty-five years later, 4AD can comfortably be called one of the most influential indie labels ever.
Under Watts-Russell’s direction, the London-based label was responsible for so many foundational goth rock, post-punk, and dream pop albums throughout the ‘80s that 4AD’s image is still closely linked to the sound of these moody, murky releases. But having had The Breeders, Pixies and several early shoegaze bands within their ranks, the label arguably played just as instrumental a role in the development of ‘90s alt-rock. Though Watts-Russell left in 1999 (Kent had departed much earlier), 4AD has continued to put out zeitgeist-capturing records right up to the present.
Taking into account the staggering number of excellent 4AD albums that have surfaced over the last three and a half decades, it only made sense to enforce a rule of one selection per artist in this list of the label’s finest, most representative releases (sorry, Surfer Rosa).
9. BAUHAUS – IN THE FLAT FIELD (1980)
In the Flat Field remains a triumph of style over substance. This utterly decadent debut album from ghoulish pioneers Bauhaus found the band building on the early work of Joy Division and The Cure while cribbing moves from Bowie, Bolan, and The Stooges. Frontman Peter Murphy and company painted glam black and proved that post-punk could be as spectacularly indulgent as the kind of classic rock that was seriously out of vogue in 1980. Ian Curtis and Robert Smith may have been the era’s true poets of gloom, but Bauhaus made goth rock sound like a Halloween-themed orgy that could go on forever.