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Japandroids, Nostalgia, & the Power of Buzz

29 June 2012

A little while ago, there was a topic that was making its way around music blogs: the idea of manufactured nostalgia. This was in response to a whole slew of bands, most of them coming from the Brooklyn indie rock scene, who embraced an escapist, dreamlike sound. Lyrically, the songs revolved around the desire for a return to simpler times. The thing was, the “simpler times” called for in these songs never actually existed. Listening to this music created a wistfulness, a fond remembrance, a longing for something completely imaginary.
Japandroids are in the nostalgia business as well, but a very different kind. They reside in a time that has now passed, but one that definitely existed. It existed so specifically that I can give you dates: 2004-2007, when I was an early teenager. They may be guilty of glorifying teenage years, glossing over the acne, the anxiety, the arguments with parents; but the feelings they describe are feelings that I have absolutely had: the thrill of staying out too late, buzzed off pilfered beer, shouting along to your favorite song without abandon, without fear of a negative Pitchfork review, without even the thought of being cool. Seeing Japandroids is like my fourteen-year-old self seeing Alkaline Trio at Great American Music Hall. Seeing them is like singing along to Thursday in my bedroom without shame. It is a reminder of the time when I did not yet care about the banalities of “cool”, it was all about the music. The music and the misery.
Which is why it is especially sad to see this band caught up in the endless cycle of buzz that pervades the New York City blogosphere. Yes, their new album got an 8.8 on Pitchfork. Yes, a lot more people began liking them. Yes, they began playing bigger venues. Yes, these bigger venues often don’t allow minors. Yes, that is sad. But why are we blaming Japandroids for the realities of capitalism? Just go to the show, dance your heart out, and try to remember a time when it was easier to like something than to dislike it.


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