Songs For A Self Conscious Summer
New(-ish) songs circling the indie-rock galaxy vary from dread to doubt to a blunt takedown.
MGMT snared everyone’s attention when, five years ago, they set fire to underground dancefloors with instant, hook-heavy synth pop juicers like “Kids,” “Time To Pretend,” and “Electric Feel.” It was a triple whammy of quirky yet fairly simple pop punchers that just got right to the root of it, irresistibly rhythmic with sugary melodies and sugarier synths.
Then they got weird on Congratulations, embracing their inner Brian Eno’s and assiduously exploring the “arty” side of “art-pop.” They may have won over a new crowd but they lost a lot of the first crowd. So it goes.
Well… They’re back (new album out Sept 17) and they’re biting with this no-bones-about-it appraisal, perhaps repellent towards the fickle fans who just wanted to dance?
Like we didn’t already know?
Now… Early summer, we slid into the swimming pool of Smith Westerns‘ effervescent, breezy ballads. We swirled to their melodies and we sauntered to their twanging guitars – it struck a bit of a well-worn chord for those of us still feeling nostalgic of 70′s AM pop styles (like the ones displayed in that recent Big Star documentary?)
But even their single doesn’t do much for our self-esteem. “It’s easier to think you’re dumb / it’s easier to think you’re no fun… OH YEAH….”
But, speaking for the guilty nostalgia-pleasure, this jam’s worth it just for the unabashedly George Harrisonian guitar solo surging fleetingly through the bridge.
What left to feel, then? Gloom? How about trippy, contemplative gloom? Gloom you can groove to? Oh, yeah!
Fuck Buttons’ Slow Focus evokes a nightmarish resonance somewhat akin to popping your head out of the shelter, post-apocalypse, to survey extraordinary decimation, these are the jams for your headphones walkabout, Omega-men/Omega-women. But instrumental music, particularly intricate electronic arrangements, often (inevitably) affect that certain soundtrack (or, “cinematic”) vibe When an album moves you without vocals, its letting you see whatever sparks to mind from the charging instrumental figures flinted and fired by agitated analog synthesizers and assailing percussive elements. Essentially, it won’t sing you a picture, it lets the music set the scene: winding and whirring around you with fervently gurgled synths sounding like mutated hornets through showering drum-machines and vocoded overcast. It dazzles with its dynamic suggestion of detachment, radiating out into vast spaces; it’s ominous yet ever rhythmic, pulling you forward. Where’s it taking you? No spoilers.
How’s all that for a pep rally?
Just in time for homecoming. What a summer!