2000, Music

Suburban Light (2000) by The Clientele

I often wonder about the historical perspectives (or lack therefore) of ’90s and ’00s music critics, particularly the young people. Because I often encounter highly acclaimed albums from these decades which sound to me as extremely derivative of other times and places. Sometimes it sounds like nostalgia, sometimes almost outright plagiarism but, regardless, I’m always mystified. I figure either the critics have no knowledge of the music the band is aping or they do and they really, really love it.

Much like The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Clientele appear to be in love with the sounds of 1965-1966 (and occasionally later years). Sure, they modernize these sounds a titch, through the filter of dream pop, but they barely do. MacLean apes the delivery of various singers from the time and he and his bandmates have spent some time learning how the other sounds were produced. But the instrumental sections don’t always sound as dated as MacLean’s voice and, it’s possible that if he didn’t sing the way he does on this record, I would be less offended. (I have rated other nostalgic indie pop albums of this era higher in part because their vocalists were distinctive, rather than mimics.)

There’s nothing I can do to understand why people think this is good. I have listened to far too much ’60s music in my life to hear anything but mimicry here. And it really is on the level of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, in terms of the width and breadth of the nostalgia. All I can say is that, if you think this is good, you should really go back to the ’60s, and listen to psychedelic pop and folk rock. Because that’s what this sounds like to me. It sure doesn’t sound like “dream pop” or “indie pop” or “lo fi”. (Who thinks this is lo fi? What the actual fuck?)

It’s fine that albums like this exist. People love what they love and some people are inspired to make music that sounds a little too much like their influences. But what’s offensive is this record’s acclaim: “80th best album of the decade”, “21st best dream pop album”, etc. Rarely have I been more exasperated by the music critic establishment’s lack of historical music knowledge than by the acclaim around this record. It’s utterly bizarre.

5/10 I guess, because it’s professional

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