The indiepop sound - in its classic form, an awkward collision between the Byrds, the Ramones and cut-price Phil Spector - has been asking, rather diffidently, for some attention for a while. Belle and Sebastian owe an explicit debt to the so-called "shambling" bands of the mid-80s, and the return of Morrissey this year suggests a renewed appetite for guitar music that champions uncertainty above aggression. Franz Ferdinand bear an uncanny resemblance to indiepop pioneers Orange Juice and Josef K. And now a new compilation in the excellent Rough Trade Shops series has brought together 46 songs that will catapult listeners back to 1986, the high water mark of indiepop.
That sense of self-reliance was what punk had been meant to be about. Indiepop put it into practice: for all its apparent amateurishness, C86 made politics a practical matter. Even more importantly, it allowed women a place in music that more apparently ideologically sound movements had not. "The political aspect has been neglected," says Amelia Fletcher, who was lead singer with Talulah Gosh (and is now director of economic and statistical advice and financial analysis at the Office of Fair Trading). "It was very, very open to women. Although it wasn't overtly political, women felt involved because musicianship wasn't at a premium: you could make the music you wanted to the extent you were able."
The very things the critics objected to - the childishness, the complete absence of testosterone, the Luddism - were political acts. What better way to reject the phallocentrism of rock than to deny masculine values? And why not invest the tired concept of the "generation gap" with some actual meaning by adopting badges of childhood rather than incipient adulthood?
Btw, some people may find it amusing that one of the bands on Indiepop 1 is called Eggs.
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