I think it goes without saying that in recent years, bands have fallen in love with the 90’s sound. It has changed the outcome of many band’s albums, and in doing so a new wave of the alternative rock sound from way back when is back. To my surprise, it has gained a lot of traction and a lot of bands seem to be following suit. Here is one man’s opinion of this 90’s revival and possibly some advice for new-coming bands who want to head in that direction.
Let’s get to the point. Whether you like the music or not, a lot of bands don’t just get inspired from the 90’s, they duplicate it. Bands like Superheaven, Wolf Alice, and even Citizen (or any band on Run For Cover, for that matter) have taken a step back by embracing the sounds of the 90’s. They, to my disappointment, don’t bring anything new to the table. I very much enjoyed Superheaven’s debut album, but their newest release was essentially a regurgitation of what they and many other bands did, and it turned out being stale. Wolf Alice had a nice mix of grunge and rock in their release, but it was nothing I haven’t heard before.Finally, my biggest letdown of the year came from Citizen. There were good songs scattered on Everybody is Going to Heaven, but overall the nature of the album set the vocals up for failure. I love Kerekes’ voice, but this album only held him back.
So, what am I getting at by saying all this? I don’t mean to be too disrespectful, but my point is that embracing a genre, sound, or form of music does not mean that you should simply replicate it.
Luckily, some bands do an outstanding job at taking the 90’s sound and twisting it to fit the band’s style. Failure, for instance, have released a killer comeback album this year, which has that great feel that they’ve always had while showing growth as musicians. They’re not rooted in their previous releases, they’ve expanded from it. Speaking of bands from the 90’s, Braid’s album from last year is definitely a winner in my books as well. It has their old school sound, but spun in a completely new way to make it an enjoyable, and very fun listen. I also applaud the music from Nothing and Adventures, who have done a better job than most at picking back up where the 90’s left off. Nothing, while possibly over-rated, have a great mix of fuzzy shoe-gaze and subtle 90’s grunge sprinkled throughout Guilty of Everything. Adventures’ Supersonic Home is also a great listen for catchy hooks and choruses, despite it’s heavy reliance on the 90’s feel.
It’s easy to sound like the 90’s, you have plenty of material to recreate the sound with. However, bands that break the mold learn from what’s been done in the past, and aren’t tied down to it. Think of it as a good starting point and work to create a unique sound from the music you love.
In conclusion, the 90’s revival has become bothersome with me, but it doesn’t have to be. I just wish more bands would step up to the plate and do a good job mixing the 90’s with what’s being done today. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments and share what your thoughts are on the so-called 90’s revival.