When Did We Lose Indie?

It’s on a wet, colder-than-it-should-be night that I find myself sat in the library, writing up notes for my final exam of the season, listening to Peace’s debut album In Love for the first time in at least six months. I’m here with all intentions of revising, but I suddenly find myself lamenting 2013, the year this record was released. A few moments later, I find myself putting down the pens and opening Word to begin writing the most pretentious piece I’ll ever write – here it is.


2012, 2013 and 2014 were really great years for indie music. In 2012, Peace released EP Delicious and people went crazy about that drop in ‘1998’. 2013 was the year that Arctic Monkeys dropped their most recent album AM, and everyone had an opinion on it. Whether said opinion was good or bad, people went in droves to see them play. Girls and guys alike were obsessed with Alex Turner’s face and they cringed at some of the things he did but they still loved him anyway (see: the infamous mic drop at the Brit Awards 2014). The line up for Reading and Leeds Festival in 2014 was dominated by indie music – including the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys and Peace, along with Bombay Bicycle Club, Foster The People, The 1975, Vampire Weekend and Palma Violets – just to name a few. The number of bands like this on the line up for a lynchpin festival has declined with every year since. So what’s happened to indie music since then?


Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that a lot of these bands appear to be relatively inactive in recent times – Alex Turner has focused his time on The Last Shadow Puppets instead of Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club chose to take an ever-ominous ‘indefinite break’ and the founding member of Vampire Weekend Rostam Batmanglij quit this January. Some bands seem to have dropped off the face of the earth – think Foster The People, Friendly Fires or MGMT. It’s not to say that there’s no new indie music about or that it’s sub-standard compared to a few years ago – The 1975 dropped their new album (the title of which is too long to repeat) recently, Foals have toured the UK twice and released a new record in the last year and a plethora of other bands have released brilliant albums.


I think that the main difference between now and a few years ago is that the level of excitement is completely different. The enthusiasm used to be palpable when a tour was announced or a new single was released. All you had to do was scroll down Twitter within moments of some news being broadcast in the indie universe and you’d see at least ten people screeching – well, internet screeching – about it. I’m not trying to say ‘there’s no decent indie music out there anymore’ – because there definitely is – and I’m also not trying to say that there’s no buzz around indie music anymore either. I feel like some fans of The 1975 and/or Catfish and the Bottlemen and/or Rat Boy definitely exemplify the hysteria that can surround indie bands; however, a lot of the ‘popular indie bands’ around these days just don’t seem to incite the same frenzy anymore.


Perhaps I’m just not as invested in it all as much anymore and everything is the same. I was at sixth form during this time period and I definitely had a lot more free time to look for new music than I do now I’m at university. It might just be the fact that I’ve grown up since then. I still got a bit emotional when I saw that Death Cab For Cutie announced their new tour last year – and I even shed a tear when I did finally see them – but it just didn’t ignite the same level of excitement it would have done two years ago. That statement most likely applies to the other people who used to let all their emotions spill whenever a band did something new – we’ve all probably matured a bit since. Don’t conflate the concepts of immaturity and getting excited over new music – it’s not something that’s immature and I think to be so impassioned by something is wonderful. It’s just that being a little less visibly zealous appears to be a symptom of getting older and maturing.


Thinking back to the original setting where I began to consider about all of this in way more depth than it ever deserved or required, perhaps this in itself explains it. I’m bored, revising in the library, and life isn’t as a fun as it was back then (for now, anyway), so maybe I’m just reminiscing on a seemingly better time. I’m romanticising it, almost. My interpretation of the current state of indie music might be entirely wrong. Who knows? However, it’s worth noting that I’m not the only person who seems to feel this way – I’m aware of other people who’ve bemoaned how times have changed. It might just be that we all miss ‘the good old days’. Humans are notorious for that, after all.


Regardless of how I feel about indie music right now, I’m still looking forward to seeing what happens in the future.

Lucy McLaughlin