Silent Shout: When Mediocre Pop Reigns, Indifference Is Bliss

Carl Williott | April 7, 2016 10:49 am

Silent Shout is our recurring dispatch from pop’s fringes. It may not be music for the masses, but — to paraphrase *NSYNC — this might be pop.

Being a pop fan — a true geek, not a person who is a pop fan by default because they only listen to whatever popular thing is currently being foisted on them — means being inundated with a whole lot of bullshit and watching a whole lot of that bullshit reach astounding commercial heights and seeing a whole lot of bullshit get glowing praise from a whole lot of bullshit industry cheerleaders.

Being a pop fan means you will have days, or even weeks, in which every new thing you hear is aggressively mediocre.

And so being a pop fan, you learn that apathy is sometimes the best way to get through a march of mediocrity. In the age of social media and the hot take, the art of being indifferent has evaporated. Of course, it’s harder to check out of the pop conversation today, but try it! When everyone on your TL is chirping about some bland song, that moment when you realize you have absolutely no opinion on it is invigorating enough to fuel a trip down a Soundcloud rabbit hole or Spotify friend-list breadcrumb trail. In a classic/trash landscape, indifference is the last weapon of the pop outcast.

Indifference gives you freedom to sit out a Twitter exchange! Freedom to gloss over bullshit like twenty one pilots getting 210 million YouTube streams. Freedom to insulate yourself and burrow into some sounds you love instead of keeping up with the meme dogpile. Just a few months ago, your TL would have had you convinced that “Cheerleader” and Charlie Puth really matter; indifference reminds you that sometimes a song matters because you’re the only one listening to it.

Indifference is bliss.


Olga Bell — “Randomness”

At various points on “Randomness,” this Russian-born, Brooklyn-based musician/producer evokes YACHT, The Knife, Crystal Castles and Friday night ’90s-radio dance mixes. She pairs a staring-into-the-middle-distance vocal performance with a beat that buzzes and bounces the listener — is “cerebral house” a thing? The track is off her self-produced third album Tempo, out May 27.

Jessy Lanza — “VV Violence” And here we basically have the inverse of “Randomness.” Lanza’s vocals are a mix of gasps, falsetto runs and playground taunts, all matching the harried loop of 808 thumps, hi-hats and synth bounces. There’s a lot going on here but the hooks cut right through it all. It’s the second single from her second album Oh No, which drops May 13.

LUH — “Beneath The Concrete”

If you were familiar with WU LYF then you know former frontman Ellery Roberts howls like a warrior entering Valhalla, and for his newish project with Ebony Hoorn he’s been pairing that vocal intensity with cinematic synthscapes. The result on “Beneath The Concrete” is a little bit like if M83 were to recruit Future IslandsSamuel T. Herring but only in his death metal croak mode. Some cavernous goth percussion ties it all together for something that’s equal parts jarring and soaring. The duo’s debut album, Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing, is out May 6.

Amrit — “Mouth” Butt play gets all the buzz these days, so perhaps now more than ever we need some loud proponents fighting for the cunnilingus cause. Cue Amrit’s oral ode “Mouth.” The Aussie has made a name for herself as a DJ in New York City and just dropped her debut Lies EP, and you can get a full taste right here.

Sevdaliza — “Marilyn Monroe”

There’s no shortage of musicians utilizing negative space in the digital era, but Dutch/Iranian musician Sevdaliza finds new ways to twist it here. Mainly because she even turns the idea of a hook into negative space, just giving us the skeleton of one before dropping out and letting Mucky‘s sparse trip-hop production take over, a void inside an abyss.