I’m haunted by three albums released from the late 1990s to mid-2010s.
Partly because they are ethereal and strange, partly because they seem to be the last good albums ever recorded.
I might be wrong about this. Perhaps I’m just a grumpy old man and you can draw my attention to more recent good albums.
On the other hand, maybe downloading killed music as we once knew it, leaving us with nothing listenable except for free, bland focus music.
Edit: here’s another view of what’s wrong with modern pop. It’s not the only one:
One must remember that songs from our youth will always be imprinted most deeply upon our hearts and that we will be biased against whatever the Young People listen to once we’re over thirty. I recently read a Boomer post dissing all the dreadful albums released in 1993 that neglected to mention Siamese Dream, Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We?, and Debut . Come on, man.
I don’t want to fall into that trap.
However, I discovered the following three albums well after my teens, in my thirties.
I think I heard songs from these albums around the time they were released but didn’t really take much notice until later, perhaps because by then there was nothing worth discovering except old stuff I’d missed.
- Moon Safari by Air, 1998
There’s something magical about this album. Air later did the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides but never came close to repeating this effort.
I don’t know how to do music criticism any more than I can play the bassoon. All you can do is listen and either like it or not. If our tastes differ, so be it. I doubt one can convince another person to like a type of music except through peer pressure and I don’t have the social dominance for that.
People I respect extoll music I dislike, for example Didact and his love of hair metal. I found the link to his blog just now by searching ‘didacts reach megedeth’. I can listen for a while and appreciate that it’s fairly complex and might be hard to play, but in the end I choose to listen to something else.
Also not a fan of his Friday T&A silicone and Photoshop fest but now we’re way off track.
The next good album:
2. Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp, 2008
Goldfrapp have done various things over the years, from uber-alternative to garish pop. This album has an odd, carnival sound to it. I haven’t heard anything this interesting released since.
The lyrics are weak but, as with Air, English is not their first language and I don’t think they care. Nor do I. There’s a time and a place for fancy wordsmithery. I like how the songs build up then explode. I find them so unpredictable that even though I’ve listened to the album a million times, I still forget where the songs go and am surprised each time.
3. Saudade by Thievery Corporation, 2014
This one is not like the others. Quiet, almost ambient, it’s a stepping-stone between what our music used to be and what it has become.
Thievery Corporation previously recorded completely different music – electronic trip hop etc. – but suddenly they came out with this French bossa nova, for want of a better categorization.
I’ve often wondered why this album is not better known. In another dimension it’s played endlessly in every cafe until it drives people nuts. A good album to drink coffee by. To focus. There are no dramatic refrains to distract the listener. We’ve almost arrived at lofi.
That the last good album was released in 2014 should not surprise us. Our cultural decline accelerated dramatically right around that time.
It’s funny: the Weimar days were not so barren. There’s plenty of good music and cinema from that era, though many of my readers will disagree.
Like I’ve said before, our decline is different from earlier ones. It’s cringe-worthy. We can’t even collapse our civilization in a spectacular implosion that will terrify the ages anymore. People will look back at our time and think, those guys were lame.
So far, I can’t imagine anything from the 2020s being nostalgic in the future. Not our music, not anything. Except perhaps to those bug-souls who take delight in hermitting in their rooms all the time, which these days is a lot of people. I reckon they have plenty more of that to look forward to.
As I said, I might be wrong and I hope I’m wrong. Hit me with any albums from this fake and gay decade you deem worthy of a listen.