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Hey Uncle Sam! Is grunge coming back?

If you subscribe to the theory that music is cyclical – and that everything gets copied eventually – then the last few years have provided a lot of grist for your theoretical mill. From post-punk to techno to electropop, it seems everything that wasn’t nailed down has been re-constituted and adapted by someone. For a few years everyone sounded like Josef K, then it was wall-to-wall New Order before the template for every pop hit was seemingly ‘Master and Servant’.

Now, there appears signs that it’s time to look out the plaid shirt and the syringes, because grunge may well be the next to be given a new millenium makeover.

We’ve raved on ELM about Yuck, The Pains of Being Pure of Heart and Silversun Pickups for a while now. What those bands have in common is that their last three singles could have come off Siamese Dream. It seems fair – grunge was a uniquely American thing, fusing classic rock, the wrong end of the punk stick and a sort of slacker nihilism which resonated worldwide, though never really grabbed Britain because, y’know, we’re just too arch. And we wash our hair.

That said, it’s not neccesarily a bad thing. The new breed seem to have jumped past the ‘shouty rubbish’ stage of grunge (early Soundgarden, Babes in Toyland etc) and straight to the tune-laden golden 92-93 period. Musical trends always seem to contrast what went immediately before, and it seems somehow understandable that bands would look to react against the shiny pop which has been in vogue for the past few years.

So will it take hold? Well, it’s a music which advocated the turning-on and tuning out in disagreement with a society which many would say was far less charged than the current one. Are kids disenfranchised enough to get behind thee? Possibly. Kurt Cobain never really went away, the shotgun blast ensuring an immortality amongst teenagers for evermore. His face adorns the clothes of a million emo kids. Sadly, his music doesn’t inform the bands they listen to.

So we will see. What can’t be argued is that there are a few fantastic rock bands coming out of the States right now, far more interesting than the rickety comfort which most bands looking for a Zane Lowe session are peddling in the UK. We may well be heading back to the days of check shirts and lank hair, with impossibly glamorous Americans singing about how hard their lives are. We shall see. Greetings from uncle Sam again? Don’t bet against it.

 

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