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Mumrock

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So there was this interesting phrase that Lucy in one of the numerous comments about my facetious recent post about Arcade Fire and all their dreary peers. I thought it was worth lifting out thrusting into the warm afternoon spotlight all by itself. Mumrock. It could catch on. I guess my two questions are a) does it exist, and can it be categorised parallel to dadrock, and b) is the way it’s broadly delineated below accurate? Oh wait. That’s three questions.

Here’s Lucy’s original comment. Oh, and sorry. I’ve tried, and I just don’t like Sufjan.

by Lucy Cage

I feel loathe to defend any of this load of Pollacks, except to say this looks like an indiscriminate hipster dismissal of Really Big Indie bands; beards and boys and guitars, just about the most insidiously dreary combination of things to happen to music.

Except some of them aren’t. Sufjan Stevens can hardly be accused of making bog-standard, seen-it-all-before-yawno music, not now, not after the frankly mental/genius hotchpotch that is The Age Of Adz. Arcade Fire, even if you may hate their massive chorus + rousing communal pots’n’pans singalong vibe (and I don’t at all: I’m a sucker for over-blown melodramatic pop), aren’t boys with guitars. Totally unrock stringy boys and shouty girls with hurdy-gurdies and violins and accordians are always going to pique my interest. Broken Social Scene do the collective multi-instrumental thing too, even if, when I saw them last year, there were literally more beards lined-up than I have EVER SEEN ON A STAGE BEFORE. Jeez. Their last album is a wonderful thing, urgent AND rambling if such a thing is possible, and chucks disco and improv and funk into the math rock pot.

OK, so The National and Fleet Foxes represent exactly the kind of straight-up big sweet melodic rock that, done badly, sucks big time and warms the cockles of clueless record execs in LA. But, but, you see there are songs on The National’s Alligator than are pretty much the finest expression of mixed-up, self-loathing 21st Century masculinity. Which, it turns out, isn’t in too great a shape. Woo. The songs are way more intricate than first listen might have you believe. ‘Lit Up’, ‘Abel’, Karen’, ‘Daughters Of The Soho Riots’ are beautiful, complex, heartbreaks of songs. It’s just one of those infuriating phenomena of the music biz that the album that breaks big is going to be the whomping great obvious one, not the far superior earlier, wobblier work.

I’m not bloody defending Interpol though (except for ‘NYC’, which has dubious lyrics but is undeniably gorgeous), nor the fucking dismal Vampire Weekend, Wolf Parade, The Strokes or Beach House: they can fuck the fuck right off.

This list and the way it’s being taken to implicate Arcade Fire in the shiteness of its fans’ other favourites reminds me of when, a couple of weeks ago, my favourite record shop (and now – whay hay! – best Independent Record Shop in the UK) wrote this on Facebook: “Forgot to buy Mother’s Day pressie? Never fear – we open at 10. Adele, Elbow, JoshTPearson, R’head, Iron & Wine, Low Anthem etc all in stock”.

My heart sunk. Mumrock. What a fucking horror. I wanted to deny any allegiance to any of it. Never mind that I properly loved at least a couple of songs from each of those bands. Ah, fuck what is and is not hip to hate: you just have to love what you love, however crap the rest of that band’s output may be.

The hating is very funny though. Much funnier than my pernicketiness. So keep it up.

Here is is The Independent‘s suspiciously patronising take on Mum Rock from a few years back.

(continues over)

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