As we stagger through the opening weeks of the new year it is clear to see a unanimous consensus across the UK music press tipping which emerging acts are on course to set the world alight and reap the rewards of [relatively] untold fame and fortune. However the ‘Class of 2013’ have their work cut in terms of delivering a truly innovative sound – a task that seemingly only becomes open for argument upon reflection once withstanding the test of time.
In their defence, musical innovation is pretty tricky. There are only a certain amount of notes, all of which don’t fit in certain chords, which don’t fit in certain keys. Certain chords don’t progress well from one to another and there are only two conventional time signatures used in most popular music– and one doesn’t even get used that much. There are millions of songs. The chance of replication arising is inevitable. We must differentiate by aesthetics, experimentalism and deliverance.
I fear that this decade (whatever it’s called – ‘Teensies’?!) will be remembered in musical history for the ‘some DJ feat. some rapper/singer formula’ that occupies cultureless meat market nightclubs on Saturday nights (I’m looking at you, Guetta!). And putting this current social monstrosity alongside 60’s psych, 70’s glam or punk and 80’s new wave, it’s just embarrassing. Cue: Savages.
The all-girl quartet creates a violent, dark and artistic noise, which tips its hat to the post-punk and goth eras of decades past, yet is still modern and, more importantly, meaningful. It has message. Savages avalanche their way into our eardrums at a time where a lot of people in this country are angry, especially the youth, and there seems to be a level of understanding between music and society, perfectly reflected in their tense live performance.
Birmingham’s Swim Deep make shameless pop music, but it’s it drenched in [what alternative culture would regard as] ‘cool’ – a concept that is somewhat groundbreaking in itself. Putting their 90’s grunge hairstyles and attire aside, their acknowledgement of themselves as a pop band is incredibly warming – exemplified by regarding themselves as a cross between Duran Duran and One Direction. Jokers.
Fellow ‘B-Town’ cool kids and Swim Deeps’ bromancers Peace collect scraps of influence from the past, but infuse their own melting pot of contingent identity. A consistent theme to their sound is partying. Most of their material was written for the dancefloor, yet they can still throw out a few surprises. ‘California Daze’ knocked everyone’s sock off last summer because it’s simply a GREAT song – in the most classical sense of the word – and even though being an anomaly to the party vibes it stretches their character to a further level of integrity.
Sonically, there’s nothing revolutionary about Temples. It’s neo-psychedelic pop that could be an extract from Woodstock ‘69. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The songs are extremely enjoyable and well written with suitably apt production and I can understand their inevitable success from a generation that still demands this sound (look how galactic Tame Impala have become recently, for example). Their revivalism encourages the argument that maybe this decade doesn’t need pure innovation and we’ve just accepted that we are drowning in post-modernism.
Niall Kavanagh is an East London based writer for ‘This is Fake DIY’, ‘The 405’ and ‘Sex Beat’.