Must we still fling this white-boy in­die gui­tar mu­sic at our pop kids?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

For all the dizzy­ing changes in the mu­sic in­dus­try over the past few years, one thing re­mains con­stant: the mu­sic press’ fetish for four-piece, in­die gui­tar bands who will slip eas­ily into the space once oc­cu­pied by The Strokes and The Lib­ertines.

That there is still this slav­ish ad­her­ence to the gui­tar-bass-drums line-up is an odd­ity in it­self, given that the genre doesn’t sell. What makes mat­ters worse is the con­stant and over­rid­ing need to (and here we para­phrase the in­fa­mous Sun­day Peo­ple head­line) fling this white-boy, skinny-jeaned, floppy-fringed, in­die gui­tar mu­sic at our pop kids.

Is there a ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion among the me­dia to the in­die, white, male four-piece? Is it an ar­ti­fact that needs to be re­cy­cled ev­ery two years?

Step­ping up this year to the “lat­est, great­est, most up-to-dat­est” plate are Palma Vi­o­lets. Al­ready the sub­ject of crit­i­cal hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion, Palma Vi­o­lets have ticked all the usual boxes: an ap­pear­ance on Later . . . with Jools Hol­land, an NME front cover, and a record deal with Rough Trade (which also signed The Strokes and The Lib­ertines).

Al­ready suf­fer­ing from a me­di­adriven delu­sion that they are the saviours of ye olde in­die rock, Palma Vi­o­lets have only re­leased one sin­gle to date, Best of Friends, which has earned them the Song of the Year award from the in­creas­ingly de­mented NME.

Now, Best of Friends is a very good tune, but we’re not talk­ing any­thing overly in­no­va­tive or son­i­cally ar­rest­ing here. The de­but al­bum isn’t due un­til March, so be­tween now and then we’ll just have to live with the fact that Palma Vi­o­lets are the anointed ones.

It’s shame­ful in that there is a lot of good-go­ing-on-great mu­sic that has been el­bowed out to al­low white-boy in­die gui­tar mu­sic its re­served park­ing space. Much of the blame can be laid at the pen­t­house door of The Strokes (al­ways a ridicu­lously over-rated band).

There was lit­tle orig­i­nal­ity in their mu­sic. They gave good im­age and could, in the early days at least, put to­gether three min­utes of catchy gui­tar pop. But sim­ply be­cause they were an ar­che­typal white, male in­die four-piece, they were el­e­vated to a sta­tus far higher than their abil­ity mer­ited.

They were fol­lowed by The Lib­ertines, who were cut from the same cloth but per­haps with less of the overt Vel­vets in­flu­ence. An­other in­die-mu­sic four-piece, an­other bunch of mu­si­cal mes­si­ahs who, once the head­lines yel­lowed a bit, sloped off the scene.

Thus, the omens are not par­tic­u­larly favourable for Palma Vi­o­lets. And such is the fragility of to­day’s in­die mu­sic that a two-star re­view from Q mag could fin­ish them off be­fore they’ve really started.

Sure, they talk a good game: bass player Chilli Jes­son (ex­cel­lent name, sir!) says about the group’s for­ma­tion: “We sud­denly re­alised that the ma­jor­ity of bands we saw, you couldn’t fuckin’ be­lieve in them. You didn’t feel any­thing for them. When I go to a gig, I want feel­ing so, from that moment we de­cided we wanted to go in and fuck­ing write some songs that peo­ple could fuck­ing feel.”

Which is all very well, but The Stones Roses did that sort of stan­dard is­sue, us-against-theworld talk far bet­ter. And had the songs to back it up.

Best of luck to you, Palma Vi­o­lets – you could be the last of the Great White Hopes. bboyd@irish­

Palma Vi­o­lets: great white hopes

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