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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Triumph Of The Dull

I've just plucked this out of the pile of stuff I get sent for the Word CD. It seems like a perfect example of a contemporary trend that I find genuinely puzzling. One of two things is occuring at the moment in what Mark Ellen calls "pop'n'rock": either there are a lot of bands who are dull because they can't think of a way of making themselves exciting or somebody really has discovered that in these over-stimulated times what the public really wants from music is dullness.
You assume from looking at their name, Forever Like Red, the name of their album, "Distance", and the scene-lowering photograph of four young men with their hands in their pockets looking at the ground, that they had better ideas but rejected them. Nobody could surely have willed this much tedium into existence. Nobody could have thought that this was going to snag the attention of the casual browser.
It has to be a plan. Somebody has seen how Coldplay, Snow Patrol, The Fray and hundreds of others prosper. They haven't been held back by the fact that all their singers sound alike, all their songs are based on that chugging acoustic guitar that gets louder when it gets to the big choruses (popular with the guys who put together sports highlights packages for the TV) and lyrics that seem profound from a distance.
I have always believed that you can make pretty reliable judgements about bands just from the titles of their songs. "Highway 61 Revisited" goes: Like A Rolling Stone, Tombstone Blues, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry, From A Buick 6, Queen Jane Approximately and so on.
Forever Like Red's running order goes as follows: What Will You Pay, Inhibitions, Dream On, Father, Exit Signs. Runaway Story, Forever Like Red, Breakdown, Off You Go and Distance.
Now which song do you want to start with?