Until recently you could most probably find me ambling around in a carefree manner, running my hands through my floppy hair, accompanied by whatever jangly Beach Boys inflected pop was deemed appropriate by the Pitchforks and Urban Outfitters of this world.
It all got too much, and I realised that Dream Pop’s tendency for faux psychedelic drivel was hiding what turned out to be the same old sickly sweet sensibilities of Feelgood Indie. And what’s more, it had seeped into my subconscious, destroying my vitality. I was a husk. A placid, foppish husk.
Having shaved off my locks, I vowed never again to sway politely at Sunday Roast, and set off in search of music with a harder edge. For a while now, the Vampire Weekend and Beach House tracks that pipe into Starbucks and Gap have seemed strangely discordant. I felt like a jealous onlooker glaring at the summer sun of an American Dream that I wasn’t invited to.
Like Hunter S. Thompson blasted on acid in the early 70s, riding out the fag-end of the summer of love in a Las Vegas hotel room, new acts like Cults, Braids and Warpaint are trying to stretch the Dream Pop trip as far as it can go, still chasing the good vibrations whilst the rose-tint begins to fade around them.
The truth is, it’s just not cool to be naïve about the world anymore. Youth culture, which is so inseparable from pop music, has moved on from the hollowness of the hipster movement. A constant obsession with what has arbitrarily been proclaimed ‘cool’ in Vice Magazine has betrayed itself as dilettantism.
It is no coincidence, then, that one of the most refreshing musical developments to take place in the last few months has been the emergence of melancholic dance. These downbeat sounds of a down-at-heel generation have a surprisingly popular appeal, as shown by the meteoric rise of Radio 1 darling James Blake. With the sparse and downbeat electronics of Nicolas Jaar and Ghostpoet’s introspective hip-hop beginning to cause a stir, there finally seems to be a legitimate challenge to the overwhelming insipidity of the psychedelic nothing.
Yet now as we near the end of our own age’s acid trip, with its highly subsidised tuition fees, a new America promised by the Obama administration, and the West’s capitalist dominance of the East all fading into our chemically frazzled collective memory there is a need more than ever for a new soundtrack. Will our new age of discontent and apathy be accompanied by – dare I say it – a new Punk?