Landfill indie was such a thing in the mid to late noughties that it became almost impossible to remember what good indie sounded like. For every killer single by Franz Ferdinand there was a stinker by The Hoosiers, for every Bloc Party gem, a piece of shit by The Pigeon Detectives, for every ‘Naive’, a ‘Chelsea Dagger’. In fact, it was probably the surge of bad indie that all but killed off the genre somewhere around 2009.
But indie music, good indie music, has seen something of a minor resurgence in 2016. No longer relying on the laddish, knuckleheaded banter-bus formula that characterised so much of the mid-noughties crap, this new brand of indie has less posturing, less mindless guitar-thrashing, fewer wannabe rock star front men with bad lyrics and good hair. But what this new brand is certainly not lacking is a shit load of tight, catchy, addictive tunes.
King No-One is part of this new charge of good indie. A Yorkshire four-piece (who don’t sing in strained, hackneyed regional accents), their new single ‘Alcatraz’ is one of those rare indie pop tunes that does exactly what it should – grip you from the first listen, pulling you in more with every repeat until you’re creating the music video in your head starring yourself as the protagonist.
From its punchy opening to its quietly forlorn lyrics, ‘Alcatraz’ is a checklist of what makes a top indie tune. Good drums, nice guitar bits, a lead singer with an interesting voice but not so interesting that it becomes distracting and, most importantly, a really, really great chorus. There’s even quite a striking prolonged note that adds an extra touch of angsty emotion to what’s an otherwise fairly boppy song.
‘Alcatraz’ is a really special piece of indie. In 2016, in this post-indie age, a time when people are sceptical of white guys with guitars, just downright bored of them, it takes a very good track to make people sit up and listen. This is probably the best indie tune since Blossoms’ ‘Charlemagne’, a fairly perfect bit of guitar pop. In many ways, ‘Alcatraz’ is very similar, in fact you’d be forgiven for mixing up the two bands if you heard them side by side, but that’s not to take anything away from what makes ‘Alcatraz’ so good.
Good indie should make you want to dance, cry, sing along, play guitar or a mixture of all four. ‘Alcatraz’ does exactly that. Finally, after years of landfill, there are flowers growing on the scrapheap of indie pop.