She’s selfish but he still loves her. That’s a little bit of an ambiguous love song, but you know what, real life is riddled with ambiguity, and love songs traditionally don’t reflect that. We experience mixed feelings a lot more than whole-hearted ones. Admit it, you know you do. We need that to trickle into our pop music. I’m a big advocate for smart and clever pop, which there’s never enough of. Indie pop is where it’s at, though. With those things said, I give you, Miniature Tigers, an indie pop group with a smart take on the usual pop song love shit.
Wherever you were in 2014, I hope you fell in love. Like, with a person who reciprocated your feelings and stuff. Me, I actually did the opposite, but I did fall in love with Future Islands, and falling in love with music is way better than getting attached to people. (I’m totally warming up to celebrate the anniversary of my most miserable breakup, stay tuned for that shit.) What music does, and why we cling to it so much, is make art out of feelings. Feelings are mundane, hormonal and stupid; art is forever, and it validates the feelings that created it and the feelings that it creates in turn. Every once in a while a song will come on the radio that just speaks to every feeling you’ve ever had, and you’re like “Yes! welcome to the soundtrack of my life!” So it stays on in your life long after whatever it was you were doing that day or than summer or that year has faded from memory. Fortunately for me, as it were, this doesn’t remind me so much of the shitty summer of 2014, but it does remind me of someone I spent some time with sometime later, who was charming and fun, and who I have no hard feelings towards, though I have no real desire to see them again.
(Photo by Harry J. Roth)
So somebody really likes Scandinavia a lot. This is Morrissey, who is not given to liking things a lot. It’s also a very melodramatic song, I would almost even say bombastic. Which are things late-stage Morrissey is very much given to. He likes being pompous is his old age. Frankly, I can understand if you no longer want to see or hear anything about him at this point. A lot of people think Morrissey stopped being relevant a very long time ago and needs to just go quietly already. I would agree except that he still finds time to write the occasional song that just speaks to me and my mental state. Or, failing to be emotionally on-point, he’s still frequently very funny. A lot of us keep coming back just for the wordplay. There’s just not enough articulate songwriting in the world, and nobody writes lines like Morrissey.
Do the Scandinavians excel at dance music because their nights are so dark and long? What can they do but dance the darkness away? If Robyn and Karin Dreijer are any indication the future of electronic music, at least, is a Swedish woman with a laptop and fine collection of outre costumes. Honestly we should all move to Sweden and become club kids. There, as Robyn’s music implies, we will find release, self-expression, and robot love. It’s been mostly all quiet on Robyn’s front lately, though there’s a Twitter rumor of a new album in the works. In the meantime, there’s collaborations like this one with Royksopp, and others that apparently never leave the shores of Sweden.
Leonard Cohen never flagged in his old age, and for that he is an inspiration to us all. He made being elderly seem nearly appealing, or at the very least, not appalling. Who wouldn’t want to be a gentleman-poet in their sunset years? Cohen’s persona was well-suited to it, of course; he had an air of well-weathered wisdom even as a young-ish man. If it wasn’t the wisdom of age in his voice on those early records, it was at least the pursuit and the promise of such. His last couple of records are unmistakably works of wisdom earned. That’s not a perspective that pops a lot in the pop world, because the pop world exists mostly to inflame the young. It’s a system of planned obsolescence, designed to be outgrown. For anyone who’s outgrown their own pop moment, it’s a comfort to turn to Leonard Cohen’s placid and pithy voice. He offers an aspirational image: no longer an attempted ladies’ man, but still fully creative, spiritual, and much given to canes and good hats.
It could be new town, same story and still mean the same thing, I think. It’s about human repetition, I think. I don’t know what any Interpol songs are about, except that it’s usually not anything happy. They’ve been relentlessly unwilling to go the la-di-da route in their writing – not one cheerful song in all these years. But they make bleakness sound so appealing and sexy, you hardly miss the sun. This is music for people who like to burrow down in their cynicism. It’s for long crushing nights alone with too many stimulants in your system. It’s for when you’re fooling yourself that being miserable makes you more interesting. That’s a fleeting state of mind for most of us, and luckily. But the best gloomy music still sounds good even when you’re happy.
Okay, I haven’t featured any good dream-pop in a while and it’s making me feel like I’m not doing my job. My readership (all, what, four or five of you?) must be clamoring to hear something relatively new or at least released within this particular millennium. I know that my thing is writing about things that came out decades ago as if they were new and relevant, but I also want to introduce things that actually are new and relevant. So here’s Miniature Tigers, who haven’t made a record since 2016 but at least they’re not dead.