Summer is festival season, but lately, festival season is actually just reunion season. Beginning with Coachella’s uncanny knack for raising the dead (sometimes with the assistance of a hologram), bands are proving with alarming regularity that “break up” is a phrase that’s lost its potency. Sure, there are some militant hold-outs — the Smiths and the Talking Heads come to mind — but for the most part, it seems every vitriolic relationship can be smoothed over with a paycheck.
However, despite how often reunions happen — and perhaps by that we mean “too often” — there are still some musical acts whose hatchet-burying genuinely surprises us. Like when the legendary punk act Refused renounced its definitive “fucking dead” status, or when, for no discernible reason, frontman Jarvis Cocker brought his Britpop collective Pulp back to the common people. In the spirit of those truly rewarding comebacks, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite, yet most unlikely reunions. Maybe all of these improbable reconciliations could inspire Morrissey? Probably not.
Why It Was Unlikely: After frontman Kele Okereke released his first solo album, the remaining three members quite publicly announced their intention of auditioning new singers. And by "publicly," we mean via the music tabloid NME. Okereke, known for bouts of drama, responds with a blog entry that is equal parts "laughing HARD" and "WTF?"
How It Went: With a fourth album plainly titled Four and a worldwide tour forthcoming, the Bloc Party comeback may in fact be a party. Hopefully, though, it won't be one of those awkward ones where everyone stands in the corner talking to themselves.
Odds of It Happening Again: So far, the tour is selling out world over. That's incentive enough to pretend the band likes one another for at least five more years.
Why It Was Unlikely: Well, for one, the quintessentially British pop group had been dormant for nine years. But on the other hand, no one really knows the mysterious and specific reason for Pulp's combustion, and whether it was ultimately significant or not.
How It Went: Brilliantly. The band sold out just about every performance and even secured a headlining slot on Coachella's first forthcoming cruise, where first class will meet Different Class.
Odds of It Happening Again: Right now, there's no hardcore commitment to a long-term future, but singer Jarvis Cocker has hinted at the possibility of new material.
Why It Was Unlikely: After guitarist Graham Coxon left the band, singer Damon Albarn developed a serious case of creative ADD and traded in his full-time gig for the Gorillaz, the Good the Bad and The Queen, Mali Music, his first solo album, and anything else not called Blur.
How It Went: Which time are you referring to? The reunion in 2009? Or the one in 2012? Three years back, based on Albarn's waning interest, it seemed like this would never happen again. Yet here we areâ€¦
Odds of It Happening Again: But where we are...? Unclear. Two new songs, a few live dates, with the band still insisting that the future is all up in the air.
Why It Was Unlikely: Because Sting basically hates everyone. But then again, that's the kind of superiority you develop after you learn to play the lute.
How It Went: Hey, look over there in 2010! There's Sting, laughing with drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers! Everyone is getting along so well! And making so much money!
Odds of It Happening Again: "People [were] reacting to the Police coming back as if mum and dad had got together, you could see that emotion in the audience," Sting said during the tour. "But who really wants to go and live with the wife you divorced?" We'll take that as a "No."
The Beach Boys
Why It Was Unlikely: You mean aside from the fact that they're all incredibly old, compounded with the fact that there was practically 30 years of tension between genius songwriter Brian Wilson and the remaining band members? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.
How It Went: Everyone made it to the stage without walkers, remembered their lyrics and, most importantly, no one got wasted on prune juice. That qualifies this as a success.
Odds of It Happening Again: God only knows.
Why It Was Unlikely: If you'd rather hire the lead singer of Extreme to front your band than work through the friction between you and your original lead singer, that's some seriously epic tension.
How It Went: It's going...okay. Singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen recorded a new album – who cares if they were old demos – and the band looks like they're having fun onstage. But rumors continue to circulate online that Eddie and Dave still kind of hate each other.
Odds of It Happening Again: Well, as the old saying goes, "If it doesn't work out, there's always Gary Cherone."
Why It Was Unlikely: Apparently, after the band's break-up in 1980, when singer and drummer Don Henley was asked about a potential Eagles reunion, he said, "When hell freezes over."
How It Went: Incredibly enough, in 1994, the weather conditions in Hell changed drastically, and the Eagles reunited for a tour and a live album, both cheekily titled Hell Freezes Over.
Odds of It Happening Again: When asked about another tour, bassist Timothy B. Schmidt was recently quoted as saying, "My first reaction would be, 'No way.'" And then continued to say in the same interview, "You never really know," and, "You never know what's going to happen," and, "I'm not sure if we're able to do that again," and, perhaps most definitively: "I wouldn't close the door on it, but I don't know."
Why It Was Unlikely: In 1999, the progressive Swedish punk band issued a self-proclaimed "final communique" titled "Refused Are Fucking Dead," in which the members adamantly insisted that "we will never play together again and we will never try to glorify or celebrate what was."
How It Went: And in 2012, the band did, in fact, reunite for Coachella to glorify and celebrate what was.
Odds of It Happening Again: Make them an offer they can't...um, refuse.
At The Drive-In
Why It Was Unlikely: Leading up to their 2012 reunion, frontman Omar Rodriguez-Lopez alluded to the fact that in the seven years together as a band that there was a lot of "shit talking." Rodriguez-Lopez also referred to the post-hardcore group as an ex-girlfriend he had no interest in dating again.
How It Went: The only "Drive" involved here was the drive-thru ATM, where the band almost certainly deposited a large check for their series of competent, yet ultimately detached, performances. According to reports, there was little "union" in their reunion.
Odds of It Happening Again: Speaking of metaphors, after the band played Coachella, Rodriguez-Lopez told Kerrang! magazine that At The Drive-In was like "an old T-shirt that didn't fit any more." Omar loves a good metaphor.
My Bloody Valentine
Why It Was Unlikely: Aside from Chinese Democracy, no album was anticipated more than My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to 1991's masterpiece Loveless. And while the shoegazing forefathers lay dormant for nearly two decades, creative visionary and boy who cried wolf Kevin Shields perpetually claimed that a new album was nearly three-fourths done. That was five years ago.
How It Went: It went great. And by "great," we mean everyone left 2007's MBV reunion shows borderline deaf.
Odds of It Happening Again: Shields recently told the NME that he's almost done with the album which, he added, was heavily influenced by the Beach Boys. Sure, Kevin. Whatever you say.