‘it’s sad that you think that we’re all just scenesters – and even if we were, it’s not the scene you’re thinking of…’
I’ve never been able to work out which is more objectionable: those who self-define as ‘hipster’ or those who self-define as ‘twee’. The thick-rimmed, obviously-not-prescription glasses vs. the Book, Tea, and Picnic Lovers. There is overlap, of course: the carefully-cultivated predilection for gin, adoration for Wilde, near-intolerable aura of “kookiness”…
One thing I will say, however: these scenes, terrible as their occupants are, have spawned some truly gorgeous music. What follows is a crash-course intro to the Great Music Of Our Epoch That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of. And by that I do mean – wait for it – pop. But not just any pop. Twee, happy, post-Pastels indie pop. Soon you, too, will be waking up every morning (driving your neighbours insane) to the sound of Sarah Records.
To avoid terrifying the Park-Enders amongst us (this is a community of support), let’s start with something gentle. We’re thinking jangly-guitars-but-light-on-the-synth, lyrics that are unarguably sweet but not so sickly that you want to throw up; a generally unobjectionable aesthetic.
The obvious choice: Belle and Sebastian. Great for anyone who thinks that Juno was the zenith of indie film and that (500) Days of Summer is “just really cute”. Also, however, anyone with ears. It’s so happy. Here is ‘Another Sunny Day’ (I like to think that they took the title from the eighties band of the same name – more of them later! – but who cares, it’s lovely regardless)
That’s it. That, right there, is the beautiful apex of indie pop – but we’re not finished yet. Rough Trade (a name you’ll come to cherish, if you don’t already) have had their turn, so now to Sarah. Home of the Field Mice, the aforementioned Another Sunny Day (best-known for their debut single ‘You Should All Be Murdered’, which has a very Smiths-esque vibe, though with added misanthropy)… and the lovely St. Christopher:
As Good As Married. How I feel about my relationship with my iPod. There are soft, echoey hints of psychedelic dream-pop in the chorus, but this is the track for sunbathing in the warm and sleepy afternoons of Trinity (please God, please). Take a four-minute (four-hour) break from the library and relax.
Right, now it’s time for the heavy stuff. And by heavy I mean super-light, super-fun, genreepitomising bubblegum pop. The lyrics say it all (“well, you can keep your punk, rock, ska, rap beats and house – fuck me I’m twee”).
I would also recommend Tullycraft’s ‘The Punks Are Writing Love Songs’, as well as ‘Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid To Know About’ (“True he likes the Breeders/He thinks Green Day’s pretty swell/But what about the Bartlebees/And Neutral Milk Hotel?”).
This list would never be complete without something a bit more violent, of course – for the shy, would-be punk in all of us. You might have heard this one in a Budweiser advert… or Baby Love on a really good night, maybe.
And we’re all like, how Rousseau depicts man in the state of nature (trying too hard). For an even more recent variation on the twee-punk theme, try Tigercats:
40 views on YouTube say you’re probably a lot cooler (have a lot more spare time) than anyone who hasn’t heard this song.
To ease us into the more lyrical, melodic side of indie-pop, we have what is probably the best Swedish music since ABBA: dear, dear Jens Lekman. Here’s my very favourite song about the impending apocalypse – ‘The End of the World is Bigger Than Love’.
He’s got a point. On a similarly heartstring-tugging theme, let’s move to our final band of this rough-and-ready introduction to wonderfulness: expect synths in their dozens, and probably having to Google the lyrics (you’ll never regret it). I give you the best wordplay I’ve heard outside of 90s rap, and the greatest-ever song about having sex in a library. If you needed any encouragement to try, here are The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, with ‘Young Adult Friction’.
So, thank you for reading – it’s been a rollercoaster ride, and we haven’t even scratched the surface. But you should now venture forth, well-equipped to infuriate everyone with your embarrassingly niche knowledge of indie pop. Dust off your polka-dot skirts/prohibitively tight jeans, steal all your parents’ eighties records, perfect your shoegazing abilities – and stay cool, I’ll see you this summer.