The Academic – 21st April – The Cellar
In amongst a seemingly never ending sea of chirpy indie bands with chirpy choruses and chirpy hairdo’s come two more pretenders to a most coveted and fought over throne. From Sundara Karma through to The Hunna via The Magic Gang, Fickle Friends and The Night Cafe, the personnel is the only real change in an endless barrage of happy go lucky personas and non threatening chorus lines. The Academic and Sea Girls have both found their foothold on this well oiled, stripper pole of radio friendly unit shifting and begin their formal ascent this year, both tipped for greatness by the very people who thrive off their success.
First up is Sea Girls, a band whose vessel has clearly hit rocks, the four piece seemingly marooned on a desert island, desperately searching for a USP. The formulaic and unimaginative nature of their compositions and their refusal to take any risks is quickly tiresome, the band sounding like a collage of their contemporaries, the cheeky little guitar licks of Fickle Friends and the chipper hooks of The Magic Gang, and it all starts to feel a little like going to the fifth sequel of a film that was never that good in the first place.
Step forward The Academic who do have a little more craft to their boppy, shiny compositions. There’s a little depth in places and it generally has somewhat more backbone than their predecessors but the overall tonality is the same and stylistically there’s little to call idiosyncratic. It leaps along like a baby lamb, enjoying it’s time in the fresh air and having no conception of the abattoir that waits around the corner once the kids grow up and find more artistic pastures.
One can’t help but feel this indie quicksand we currently seem to be sinking into needs to reach a finite conclusion as soon as possible. Like all movements it started with a clever amalgamation of a few different ideas and for a year or two sounded vaguely passable – watered down math rock guitar work mixed with super sugary choruses and an upbeat, dance friendly rhythm section became a foolproof (literally) way of making coherent pop songs for the masses. Skip forward four or five years however and we are still stuck in this cyclic monotone, the record labels only just rediscovering how to eek their pound of flesh out of these young groups so unwilling to take risks on fresh ideology just yet. It’s predictability is nauseating at times and maybe I’m being overly harsh on these individual bands to make a point about this seemingly endless barrage of mediocrity.
But it’s also important to remember that when you pick up a guitar, a microphone or a paint brush you are becoming an artist and art should challenge its audience, never mimic and absolutely always attempt to show fresh and invigorating concepts which allow us to escape ourselves and our personal world views. Call me a purist, pretentious or pathetic but for me the current glut of bands on this colourless conveyor belt have no notion of their roles as artists and instead gone for the easy option, the brainless shadow puppetry of their predecessors.