I think it's safe to say that, at this point in the game, we're living in a post-genre world. And, unlike the problems presented by pretending to be post-racism or post-feminism, a post-genre world makes a lot more sense for the world we're living in.
That's not to suggest, however, that those signifiers don't have meaning or weight any longer. The words shoegaze or post-punk or new wave likely conjure some sort of sound, image, feeling or memory in your psyche. Rather than being a hard science, genres are subjective, constantly blurring and blending into one another. This is truer to how most of us actually listen to music in our daily lives. When you're feeling bleak, throw on a little post-punk or goth. Wanna get happy? Pop's the thing.
In this way music is the ultimate postmodern patchwork quilt, providing an unusually clear depiction of the world, and the people in it, in a way that no other medium can. And while it's likely different for a lot of people, particularly those who've discovered new wave and post-punk in the 2000s, romantic ‘80s gothy new wave rock n’ roll seems to carry with a sense of distance and remoteness, even while being passionate, romantic and full of heat.
Frankly, this is music for losing yourself on a foggy dance floor, perhaps watching yourself move in a mirrored wall beneath flickering blue and red party lights. It's not that it's un-emotional (notice "cold" is one of the most common descriptors of this style of music); it's just that emotions are backed up, held in to be expressed at the right moment.
This may strike some as being too pent up and restrained, but frankly, I'm tired of that crap. Sure, the world needs the hot-blooded Latino lovers; the fiery, tempestuous arguments; the windswept abandon of being swept off of your feet, or resistance. Frankly, I don't much care for extroverts. If I want to hear what you're thinking or feeling, I'll ask. The music of Olympia, WA's Blonde Lip is a great support of this argument, as I want to lean in through the echoes and reverb of the chiming, psychedelic, garage-infused new wave and really listen to what lead singer/frontman Myles Redd has to say.
Clouds the debut full-length from Blonde Lip is Myles Redd's love letter to the year of our lord 1989. Maybe just because it's fresh in our minds, you can't help but think of Taylor Swift's ode to that end of that decade. Taylor Swift, however, was born that year, so her document is the bold, confident soundtrack of one of the most influential young women in the world. Clouds flips the script, however. It's the sound of someone who isn't one of the most powerful people in the world. A lot of us don't get to be bold and forward with our feelings (even when we should).
Playing Clouds back-to-back with Taylor Swift's 1989 could potentially sonically illustrate the many layers of that dense postmodern tapestry we mentioned earlier. That's what music is for, after all, and why it's important to hear as many different voices as viewpoints. What we need is an anthem for everybody, for the awkward and romantic as well as the powerful and bold.
Personally, my experience is much closer to Myles Redd's than Ms. Swift's (although I plan on releasing a high-powered fashion and fragrance line any day now). As a part-time new wave goth, I can tell you that Blonde Lip's heart beats as fiercely as any Beyonce video, but differently.
Next time you're planning a foggy dance party, throw this one on. I almost guarantee you someone will ask what it is.
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