Despite my freak roots, I’ve always kept an open ear toward pop. This has made me somewhat anathema to my peers, who tend to have a more straightforward approach to music. As a kid, I gorged my ears on equal amounts of Aaliyah and SPK, able to discern the difference in musical approach without pre-distinguishing worth. Teen-me and my accompanying big-ass Ian McCulloch hair once had the incredible opportunity to see Bratmobile perform. A year later, me and my accompanying big-ass Nick Cave hair attended a Spice Girls concert and had an amazing time—even knowing that ‘Girl Power!’ was simply a watered-down and mass-market approach to the ethos of Riot Grrrl, I simply enjoyed the spectacle and happiness surrounding me. I followed Destiny’s Child as fervently as I collected Neubauten LPs, in the sincere hope that they’d be the next TLC. Music has and always will come before any social-scene ideals about underground and mainstream.
When it comes to modern pop, a landscape where words like underground and mainstream increasingly have no meaning, I’m becoming more and more addicted to the sounds of Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX et all. It’s not that there’s something amazing or particularly unique about them; rather it’s the sincere blankness that draws me, a minimalist approach to pop that’s a joy to listen to without having a pre-determined shelf life. Can you imagine someone listening to and being entertained by ‘Gucci Gucci’ even a year from now? Songs like ‘Everything Is Embarassing’, however, are valuable specifically for their uncluttered, basic approach. I hesitate to use the word ‘easy listening’, but that’s what we have here: a piece of music that’s easy to listen to, regardless of the times. It doesn’t go out of its way to be brash, or wild, or to employ much in the way of production; it is to content to just be. This act of musical complacency might have horrified the crusty, scabby youth I once was, but when times change, so too do our ears and the way we perceive music.
I still can’t get into that new xx album, though. Nothing fucking happens.