So, my first piece of writing for this place, I thought I’d do something intellectual but short and snappy, something that’s been on my mind recently. Everything nowadays is labelled as retro, is it retro, what is retro, why is it retro?
Take the Strokes, The Libertines, even something as obscure as British Sea Power, and invariably at least one critic will use the word “retro”. Perhaps it’s an overused word in our present climate. I for one cannot see anything which makes most of these bands retro at all.
Sure, I can see that they take their influences from the music of the past, but good music is going to always sound modern. Retro is when a band sounds dated, an exact copy of the past, and it’s usually obvious when they seem dull. Today’s music borrows no more from the music of yesteryear than say, the Stones borrowed from the blues. Everybody acknowledged the Stones blues influence, but was it ever considered unworthy of listening to because it sounded a bit like some earlier music? On the contrary, it sounded cutting edge.
In a way, it almost feels as though “retro” is a dirty word, something branded upon a band who can’t be bothered to completely reinvent music. These bands are not retro, they are new, fresh and modern, but take some of their cues from what came before them and this difference seems to be being lost. It is almost as though critics and listeners alike yearn for music of the past, maybe they don’t listen to new music properly, or maybe they just don’t want to hear something new. Still, to call something retro is nine times out of ten, completely missing the mark.
The Darkness fall into the minority ten per cent though.