Words by Oliver Shasha | Header Image by: Ashley Wolf
When Ian Brown marched onto the stage at Spike Island in 1990, oozing with lethargy and arrogance, he and The Stone Roses were setting the dials for an intoxicating decade of music. Fixated with anarchy and the bohemian messages of anti-establishment sentiment, fuelled by pill popping eccentrics and ski jacket exuberance, Britpop was wild, it was authoritative, and the now yardstick with which musical achievements of the present are held up to and compared. Move the clocks forward 22 years, and in 2012, still 16 years on from Oasis pressing their bowl cuts against the ceiling of domestic musical success with their two historic shows at Knebworth, The Stone Roses take to the stage again, this time for the homecoming leg of their reunion tour at Heaton Park. The band themselves have obviously changed, brandishing patches of stubble and the withered grey locks that come with middle age, but the music environment surrounding the gig is yet to mature in the same way, remaining very much dependant on it’s regular dose of age old bucket hat rock, nostalgically clinging on to the simpler heights of Britpop. This never ending grasp of the past has even transcended into the music of new, still clutching onto the blueprints of the 90s as their gateway to commercial appeal and widespread attention.
But instead of continuing on this tirade of cynicism, let’s explore this rebirth, and delve into the latest case…
Creating waves of excitement and anticipation with sold out shows and successful singles, Helsinki Indie Rock group Pastis made their way into a sought after position with Indie tunes that favourably blend poppy lead guitar hooks and soft melodic phrasing, creating a sound that was easy on the ear and stylishly shared many of the positive attributes of European rock success stories (Phoenix, The Hives). Pastis new single, ‘Around Here’, takes the light hearted Indie pop of previous songs and whilst giving the music more character and purpose, drives it deep into the realm of Britpop. Heavily influenced by former Mancunian impersonators DMAs, this adaption to Pastis sound may not advance the originality of the music, but it’ll certainly make them more of a player in the UK music scene, a point that i’m sure lingered in the back of their minds during production. Like many of the best Britpop moments, each arrangement in ‘Around Here’ has its own direct purpose in advancing the song to it’s desired location. Self indulgence and showmanship are out the window, this music is for the fans. The rich chords and relevant vocal hooks will no doubt captivate and summon audiences from all over, and is a useful attribute to have on your side of the pitch.
With award ceremony feuds and press-obsessed debauchery replaced by overseas imports and half cut conformity, this is the state of today’s Britpop hangover. Although this music itself stands up on the live front, it will forever exist in the shadow of the predecessors who coined the sound, and demonised by the rinse and repeat manifesto of industry antagonists The Sherlocks. But moreover from the sold out northern gigs and the failure to consolidate this bucket hat renaissance up and down the UK, why have we failed to move on? Should this reluctance to progress and innovate new sounds worry us? Perhaps we should all sit down, relax, ‘Wonderwall’ at the helm and our fingers crossed, and affirm that this fresh wave of Britpop will cast a light on the notion that guitar music is not dead, nor will it ever be, and pave the way for new diverse creative music that captures the imagination of a generation the same way that Britpop once did. For now though, it’s probably best if you resist from depopping your anorak.
Listen to ‘Around here’ here:
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