I've purposefully kept out of touch with this brand of industry-backed, radio-endorsed, light-n-fluffy vanilla "indie rock". This is mostly for my own sanity. I felt as though I was becoming more jaded than Jadakiss after losing out on another 16-bar guest spot on a Jagged Edge remix to a reverbed Jack Johnson sample. On the upside, my lust of alliterated lines and poetic punches continues to remain unwavered, even after being previously shelved for many years following a barrage of teenage teasing during my poetry-contest-winning adolescence years.
Speaking of those difficult, yet formative, puberty years...
I was maybe 15. Hunched over a small desk in my bedroom, the location where I spent most afternoons. Head in a textbook, whilst rap music blasted from the floor-speakers of my Sanyo stereo — a hand-me-down offering from my parents a few years earlier. The stereo was far too powerful for the 2.5 square-metre room it occupied, but perfect for creating a chamber of solitude, blocking out the younger kids from the neighbourhood as they paraded around the cul-de-sac on their dirt bikes and skateboards with a joyful and annoying sense of optimism.
Isolated as such, when someone entered the room I was always startled. 5:42pm and, like clockwork, my father burst into the room unannounced.
"I saw that website you made, it looks good".
He was referring to the Tupac Shakur memorial website I'd created. His discovery of which was inevitable, considering it was hosted on the 5mb of free allocated server space that came bundled with our home Internet connection.
"Oh, ok. Thanks." I mutter back, before returning my gaze to the hyperbolic curve calculation that had me more stumped than a hapless victim of Sir Ian Healy, circa before he ruined his legacy with commentary.
"Only thing", he continued. "It says 'Tha' instead of 'The' at the top of the page".
I didn't respond, instead just returning an eye gesturing towards the poster hanging above my bed. A mostly black-and-white photo of Snoop Doggy Dogg. Long silk hair, eyes closed, in a prayer stance, underneath a large, bold, Godfather-like typeface — 'Tha Doggfather'.
"Oh, ok then". He nodded and left.
Of course, looking back, it's now obvious that this was my father's attempt at bonding, latching on to my recent obsession with 'making websites' as an entrypoint to formulating a better understanding of why his son had drifted so far away during his teenage years. Instead, I chose to deal solely with his lack of understanding of the subject matter involved — rap music. A detachment which was completely understandable considering the genre didn't even exist when he was dropping acid and listening to Donovan at Bath University.
It's also now apparent that the primary source of my initial lust for rap music was a reaction of rebellion. A purposeful act of being nothing like those that created me. Not because of any specifically negative action on their part, but because it obviously seemed like the most natural way to discover my own sense of self-worth. My own uniqueness. My own identity.
There's absolutely no identity displayed on Real Feel. It's actually almost laughable that the word 'real' appears in the album title, because this is a robotic creation, a completely soulless, lifeless collection of songs, exclusively built around the precise measurements of what is required to be as unobtrusive as possible, receive mass radio coverage and get a lucrative sync-deal with some fittingly terrible local television drama.
More overbearing though, is the band's own display of disinterest. There's nothing here to communicate any genuine desire or care in their own music, just a seemingly endless stream of mild-mannered synth-based explorations that travel unmeasurably small distances from the safety of their home base. Even the band's mild attempts at experimentation (eg. the closing 'rough' guitar crunch on Japan Window) sound completely forced, tacked on to the closing fade-out and carefully measured in a manner to not obstruct the main event in any way. This record is completely void of anything remarkable or interesting.
I'll tell what I do find interesting though — genetics. Billions of microscopic, pre-programmed bits of information. Basically, just what those pie-in-the-sky folks call 'destiny'. We're created from our creators, combining specific attributes from all involved that no amount of external influence can extinguish. It's inevitable that my offspring will mimic my own life trajectory in some form. A depressing, but surely unavoidable, fact.
Therefore, I expect them to challenge my own musical tastes in the same manner in which I did many decades earlier. Sure, I'll do my best to brainwash them with the pure sounds of Talons, Sunset Rubdown and TV Colours from a young age, but if they posses a similar tame rebellious streak as their father then surely they'll jump at the opportunity to aim for something that'll irritate their "old man" as much as possible.
And that would be this. Because there's absolutely no other music I find quite as infuriatingly painful as this form of "indie rock".
Give me a lifetime of Bieber's and the inevitable stream of replicate acts. All the singing contest winners, the runners-up, the off-beat ones from isolated regional centres that don't make it past the first audition stage. Because at least there's some form of passion there. Some sliver of conviction. Some, if even just minuscule, aspect of actually giving a shit. Or, at the very least, some form of tangible pop quality.
Because The Holidays don't create catchy songs. If they did, that would at least be some form of consolation. Instead, they simply go through the pre-programmed motions, sounding completely and purposefully detached, wary to throw any form of personality into their music in the fear it'll hinder their attempt to transform this whole operation from creative pursuit into lucrative career.
This apprehension creates a completely beige record, featuring the music of blank expressions, built from the basic plot outlines of tweenage rom-com films and well-worn, cliched subject matters. This is the audio encapsulation of a safety-first operative, the passionless personality that continues to plague popular music in this country. And most likely the origin of my forthcoming vasectomy.