Saw Pareles bash glo-fi for his SXSW roundup. I love a good pisstake, but I am wondering about this statement:
"It’s annoyingly noncommittal music, backing droopy vocals with impersonal sounds–a hedged, hipster imitation of the pop they’re not brash enough to make. Which doesn’t mean that, sooner or later, one of these bands won’t stumble onto a hit."
Maybe Pareles is complaining about the hype, which seems a bit behind the ball since everyone's been complaining about glo-fi since Ryan S. decided it was a thang some what, year ago? Then there's the ritual decrying of hipsters, it's own tired troupe of the pre-indie boom authenticity police. And all of it it in the Times, from The Vet, no less. These tropes are officially retired.
I am not convinced that it's these artists fault that they're so big, and that their aesthetic isn't somehow fresh or zeitgeist. It sounds to me like the perfect mix of AnCo swoon vox, Arthur Russell miserable minimalism, downtempo Hot Chip and with that dose of melacholy that, for all the articles about the death of indie, persists as part of the post-post rock our-slum-is-the-mainstream vibe. Yeah it's a macro micro trend, welcome to the looking glassland.
Actually what annoys me is that subtle challenge to sexual bravado that haunts that passage - "droopy" vox, a chastising for not being bold enough -- queue Sean Nelson -- to love, to rock, to seize the power of the spotlight to make some epic pop statement. I am in full support of wallflowers saying fey in the spotlight, not backing down from their lack of commitment, staying hopelessly fragile in the Austin heat. If 1,000 people heard it and still came waiting for a hit that doesn't exist, fuck 'em - some music gives you pleasure without giving you what you want, and that is a great lesson for SXSWsters to learn.