20 Best Second Albums of All Time

If at first you don't succeed – or even if you do – try, try again: Here are the best follow-ups in history

Pixies, 'Doolittle' (1989)
Courtesy of 4AD20/20

20. Pixies, 'Doolittle' (1989)

An indelicate balance of gentle and tough that stands the test of time, Doolittle delivers classic rock with a side of alterna-mayhem – like a volatile friend whose unpredictability could make or break your evening. The brutal Surfer Rosa, produced by Steve Albini, was the low-budget 1988 calling card that introduced Kim Deal's cantering bass, guitarist Joey Santiago's reverb-heavy guitar, and singer-songwriter Black Francis's deceptively tender and startlingly violent delivery. This was all smoothed out on 1989's Doolittle, which – surprise! – turned out to be the superior album. It begins and ends, naturally, with songs about sliced and gouged-out eyeballs. In-between there is both sweetness ("Here Comes Your Man," "La La I Love You") and a sense of impending doom ("Wave of Mutilation," "There Goes My Gun").