Indie as a genre has been pretty well defined for a while now. Having evolved from its original political meaning within the music industry to become a genre label in its own right, it generally indicates pop aware melody and musical adroitness, that fine line between commerciality and underground cool, between accessibility and integrity. But what does the indie band of 2016 do to stand out from the pack? Well, I’m glad you asked….
One answer is to do what Seegulls have done. Forget warping the genre and kicking down generic barricades or cross-pollinating your sound with the tricks and trappings of other genres to gene-splice indie into some sort of modern musical Frankenstein’s monster isn’t the answer either. It isn’t about subverting expectations, it is about feeding them. It is about doing what the rest of the pack do but just doing it so much better. Underline – so much better. The result of such an attitude can be found on their recent, eponymous debut e.p.
For whilst you will find a lot here that is familiar, shimmering guitar work, dance fuelled grooves and instantaneous melodies, it is how they fashion those elements together that is the real skill. The building blocks may be familiar but the resulting sonic architecture is dazzling none the less.
Slightly mathy, hypnotic guitar patterns dance around solid backbeats with overdriven rhythm guitars acting as the accelerator pedal powering on and off, as the song requires. Just listen to the wonderful interplays on opening salvo Reach Out for an example of this. There is even room for a jaunty interlude as Good Enough takes your hand and spins you around the dance floor, that’s chart-bothering potential right there.
And maybe the fact that three guitars have gone into the mix means that more thought has gone into how they interact with each other than usual but resulting musical textures and nuances are a testament to a bunch of musicians who can put their personal ego to one side and just play what the song requires. And nuance is exactly what Explode is all about, a more reflective piece but driven by space and atmosphere as much as the clever orchestration that these elements hang on. Underplaying a song is much harder than overplaying and other bands could do worse than take a few notes out of Seegulls’ book about layering, restraint and dynamics.
Even if there aren’t many new places to go within the broad genre we call Indie, maybe the answer is less about heading off into the unknown and more about consolidating the current position, but it is a position that is in safe hands with Seegulls.