Here's the timetable:
This is very disjointed... The tracks were released as chunks and then... nothing... for almost a year+.
THEN the album showed up, with half new tracks. I'd already heard half the album, so the other half was the new part. Half the album had been leaked a year and a half early, and when the album finally arrived, it was like a banana that had already been half eaten. Still wonderful tracks, and yes, as Jon mentions, the album is now a time capsule and the songs are still funny and will age.
This does not take away from the fact that, leading up to the album, I lost interest very quickly. I downloaded the first three digital leaks, and then got super bored. Then I sorta forgot about the new album altogether. I realize that Al has a lot to do, but a 1.5 year hiatus after teasing us with tracks for a new album was, IMHO ridiculous. "Alpocalypse" (although a great album) was almost Al's "Chinese Democray."
You mention "Off the Deep End." Let's us this album as an example. Al recorded 7 songs in 1990 for his new album (mostly originals). However, without a lead single, he waited to release his album. When SLN finally came about, he released the album in 1992. Fans loved that album. They bought it up and it was all good. Some said the Milli Vanilli parody was a little dated, but I haven't heard much damning criticism about. Imagine if Al had released "The Plumbing Song" as a single in 1990, then "Trigger Happy," then "When I Was Your Age," etc. (Yes I realize the singles market was different back then, but this for all intents and purposes). When 1992 had finally rolled around and "Off the Deep End" was released, the critics and fans would've moaned and complained that HALF THE ALBUM had already been released. The album would've probably still sold well (because of SLN) but it would've felt like a compilation, with that especially 'dated' Milli Vanilli parody on it. This is my opinion of "Alpocalypse." The album is great, but it feels like a "Exile on the Mainstream" Matchbox 20-esque greatest hits comp+new material release. I already heard "WYL" 2 years ago, but I haven't heard "PITCIA." In fact, many reviews I've read have complained that many of the tracks had already been released (Allmusic comes to mind). Mediocre reviews = mediocre albums sales.
Jon, you also mention that this view is narcissistic. The answer is, yes it is. I'm totally happy with whatever Al does because he makes the music, but I don't listen to his music solely because I want HIM to be happy. I listen to his music because it makes ME feel happy. I buy his music because I want it. This is the same for anyone who listens to music. No one buys an album 100% based on selfless ideals. Sure, someone might say "I want to support [insert artist here], even if their album sucks..." but deep down they WANT that record because THEY enjoy the music. Music is very selfish based.
Using a simple example. [Insert Your Favorite Band] is releasing an A) new album or B) compilation album with new tracks. Which are you more excited for? Why obviously, the new album, because it is fresh and exciting to hear for the first time. For instance, if DEVO releases a new album, it will be awesome. If DEVO releases a greatest hits album it will be all yawn-yawn action.
Ergo, my argument lies on several main points.
First, the timing in which Al released the songs was ridiculously stretched out.
Second, the album was not released like "Off the Deep End" which had an excellent release strategy
Third, the album felt like a compilation album
Four, music and buying music is based, for the most part, solely on listener enjoyment and gain. New music is better than 1/2 new music + 1/2 old stuff
If Al had appeased me, the timeline should've looked like this:
/---------------Fan teasers---------------\/--Public tease--\/----Album---\
Is that TOO much to ask? Am I TOTALLY unreasonable?