Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore the full list, and be sure to let us know if you believe any debut albums are missing in the comments below.
In the summer of 1996, “I Want You” arrived on the airwaves to introduce vocalist-songwriter Darren Hayes and instrumentalist Daniel Jones, an Australian pop pairing called Savage Garden. “I Want You” was irrepressible, fizzy and intelligent—it would have induced envy in ABBA at their prime. The track commenced a successful stretch of six more singles between 1996 and 1999, all hailing from their eventual multi-platinum certified eponymous debut project that originally dropped in 1997.
A stirring mixture of club rhythms (“Tears of Pearls”), blue-eyed soul (“Universe”) and inventive AOR (“To the Moon and Back”), Savage Garden was one of the last gasps of greatness from the pop genre that soon entered its dim, homogenous home awaiting it in the 2000s. Jones—with guidance from producers Chris Lord-Alge, Charles Fisher and Mike Pela—set the aforementioned music templates up for success, ensuring crossover appeal without sanitizing spunk, but it was Hayes who sold it. His lyrical skill and vocal deftness made the material believable and likable, evidenced by their command of late ‘90s radio globally. The duo put out one more album, Affirmation (1999), before disbanding at the peak of their success, with Jones retiring from music while Hayes embarked on an exciting, experimental solo career.
In the 20 years since its release, Savage Garden’s luster has not faded. It has become one of those records that defined an era, but functions apart from said era to be timeless all on its own.