When Did Indie Die?
Seriously, when was the last time any of us listened to indie music? Who here can honestly say they’ve listened to any of it in, say, the past three years, other than in adverts for B&Q and Nissan?
It is quite contested as to when indie actually died. Some argue that indie breathed its final, painful breath when the Arctic Monkeys released AM. Or maybe it was 2011, when Pulp and The Strokes went head-to-head at Leeds and Reading, before deciding to call it a day. Some edgy critics think it was the early 2000s. Whenever it happened, there was one point when we all put down our Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures tees and never picked them back up again.
I am willing to say that 2011 was the final year of indie. It was the year I turned 16, when drinking cheap cider in parks was cool. Friends would sit in clusters, passing around Strongbow mixed with ASDA’s own brand blackcurrant cordial. Perched in the middle of these small groups would be the shitty portable speaker that belonged to your mate’s older brother, blasting out tinny tracks from Bombay Bicycle Club and The XX. GCSEs were over and summer stretched before us with endless possibilities.
2011 was the year that landfill indie became mainstream. It was when Noah and the Whale and The Drums really started to make a name for themselves, and I really wish they hadn’t. As bands like the aforementioned Strokes, Pulp and Modest Mouse faded away, there was a surging wave of painfully monotonous indie music to fill the void.
All of this is epitomised in Peace’s newest album release, Kindness Is The New Rock and Roll. It feels as though Peace were blithely unaware that everyone had more or less left indie rock behind, along with NME, pork pie hats, and back combing. We are moving towards new music now, music that speaks more to us; we are listening to music that has more meaning. If we look at Childish Gambino, Beyonce and others, we can see that theirs is music that speaks to us directly. It deals with very real issues that we are going through currently.
Indie simply fell by the wayside because it lost its passion. With empty lyrics and the same four chords, it didn’t really feel like anything new. Journalists have been trying to diagnose its cause of death for years now. In 2016, Consequence of Sound said it was due to the emergence of solo artists that took away mainstream appeal from bands. The Guardian pegged its demise around 2012, citing a lack of significant sales success. It’s all really quite obvious: we just got bored with it. Indie never left after an explosive argument. It didn’t slam the door or drive off with a piercing screech of tires. It trickled away slowly, until we were just left with our Hawaiian shirts and cans of Red Stripe.
Riding on the heyday of the early 2000s, plenty of bands started to emerge. All names I have mentioned in the article, but here are a few others to refresh your memory: Two Door Cinema Club, Frankie and the Heartstrings, The Vaccines, Swim Deep, Miles Kane, Best Coast, Warpaint. I could go on but I really don’t need to.
Nothing about these bands is distinguishable from the other. It is beige music; factory processed and churned out while we were still riding the high of the early 2000s. And teenage me lapped it up. It was never motivational, and it was never inspiring, or even interesting. It was fun, bland music that no one would ridicule you for putting on at a house party (or sit off, if kids still use that word). Indie was a phase that passed. It may come back around; trends are usually cyclical after all.
This brings us back to Peace. Peace joined relatively late to the indie hype, releasing their first EP in 2012. Their music is reminiscent of what we left behind; it really does not offer anything that we have not heard before. This is the kind of music that you would wait to see in Leeds’ Festival Republic Stage, in between bands that have banjos in the arrangement. You’d finally leave the stage after dancing with people who have cut the sleeves off their denim jackets, only to find that your friends had soon forgotten about you and left you two hours ago to head to the main tents. For Peace, we simply do not have the time.
In 2012, The Guardian called them “the future of indie”.
Except it’s 2018, and indie is dead.