With the recent release of Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head and Haven’s Between the Senses, Britpop is experiencing a renaissance of sorts on this side of the Atlantic. Starsailor and Travis have received measurable success in the U.S., and Dido … well … she got to duet with Eminem.
I’ve always been partial to the British sound – lauding Paul Weller, Nick Drake and the like, while ridiculing those who favor their American counterparts. Lately, however, my smugness has been harder to muster. There is a distinct irony in simultaneously complaining about the homogeneity in American pop while throwing on Haven’s new album.
“Who is that?” my roommate asks. “Is that Travis? … Coldplay? … Radiohead?”
Ordinarily I would dismiss such ignorance, but haven’t you noticed that those albums you loved last year – perhaps, say, Parachutes – now make you violently ill? Britpop has become as inbred as the Windsors themselves. The result is sugary swill slung at American audiences in the hope that some might stick.
I haven’t lost faith in the British scene. Far from it. Great music is produced over there, but it stays over there. Manic Street Preachers continue to evolve stylistically, yet remain anonymous in the U.S. They are effectively square pegs, destined to never quite fit through the hole Radiohead drilled. Let’s not canonize Radiohead, they produce their share of crap, but they make up for it in innovation. Even during their less glorious moments, Radiohead is never dull. These latest offerings bore me to tears.
The albums are ephemeral by definition and by execution. The lackluster vocals, which span a musical range from y to z, are tediously melancholic. The music is so passionless, processed and over-polished it has alienated its audience. And yet, record labels continue to parade these bands single file, each sounding more and more like the one before. Coldplay has not strayed from its safe, watered-down formula and Haven appeals to those who like their music even more dilute.
If you still enjoy the Dreampop sound then these albums won’t disappoint, but don’t fool yourself: This is the same mass-produced, saccharine, Yankee pop bullshit – just with accents.
[Erin James produces her share of crap, but makes up for it in grade inflation]