Where the previous double album, the rock-opera Tommy was buoyant, rocking and didn't want for guitar hooks or the riffs, Quadrophenia got as serious as a ditch with songs that were bloated, wooden, humorless, positively no fun. It merits a mention that the theme was incomprehensible and that this is where Daltry's voice finally gave out. The guitar chords, once crashing, smashing and slashing in all the old descriptions of youth rebellion, were now leaden, robotic, rusty. All that was left was a cracking bellow that made you think of nothing except an old building collapsing under its heft. Ambition is fine, but not without an idea of what you're doing. Someone told songwriter Peter Townsend that the modernist tradition demands a diffuse narrative, broken up in sharp pieces, and lacking resolution, techniques I fancy myself, given my devotion to the poetry of Eliot, Stein, and Silliman, but there is a knack to doing things that way, an "ear", if you will. Sentences and ideas that don't necessarily follow one another inconveniently logical, causal order require arrangement, a sense of what doesn't go together the right way: there is a reason why Bob Dylan's surrealism remains powerful five decades later and the more recent writings of Springsteen, someone clearly influenced by Dylan's turn to obscurity, are hardly quoted at all.
Another problem as well might have been an inferiority complex; he stopped being an artist, writing and recording wonderful, brilliant, ingenious rock and roll songs the moment he started to try to be an artist on other people's terms. It's a self-conscious artiness that has made his music frightfully didactic, incomplete and a chore to bear.