Music » Album Reviews

We're in an age of overrated indie acts


  • Christian Bertrand / Shutterstockcom
  • Iceage
Even the most promiscuous music lover has experienced that puzzled feeling, the one you get when you can’t quite figure out what it is about certain artists that inspires such a rabid response from their fan bases. I’m not talking about the transient pop stars of any given moment — like, for example, Troye Sivan today — whose generic appeal isn’t worth debating. No, what mystifies me is the ever-flowing tide of cult artists who, as much as I may recognize their talent or creativity, just don’t seem all that engaging. Here are three of the latest:

On Beach House’s new album 7 (Sub Pop), which, as you may have guessed, is the duo’s seventh full-length, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand offer increasingly complex riffs and lyricism, but Beach House’ typically ethereal use of fuzz and drone makes their music less striking than duos like Phantogram or Sleigh Bells. It all sounds perfectly fine while you’re listening to it, but there’s nothing all that memorable to hang on to afterward.

Which brings us to Yo La Tengo. One of the indie world’s most sacred cows, Hoboken’s longtime critic favorites were shoegazing well before their British counterparts. Despite its name, the group’s new album There’s a Riot Going On (Matador) takes a mellow approach fit for a summer beach, which makes it sound too much like every other recent Yo La Tengo release.

In punkier realms, Denmark’s Iceage has its Interpol-meets-Joy-Division approach down, but the high praise for their new album Beyondless (Matador) overlooks the riffs on tracks like “Showtime” that are basically recycled from past releases.

And we won’t even touch the yacht-rock revival.

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