Fakers of the Year
As the millennial resurgence in “independent music” enters it’s second decade, we can see something sinister start to happen. While “indie” had once been a blanket and largely undefined term used to refer to any of the myriad DIY acts working outside of the mainstream system, it gradually started to become more and more of a reproducible commodity as Universal, Warner Brothers and other multi-billion dollar corporate labels began creating “indie” divisions. In the wake of the successes of the Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian and Animal Collective, indie rock has become a easily copied sound, now put out by major labels. Loma Vista, the latest full-length album by LA hipsters Family of the Year, is merely the latest and most exaggerated example of how indie rock has become a mere cut-and-paste job.
The overwhelming impression that a listening to Loma Vista leaves us with is the sense that we’ve heard this all once before. Lyrically, Loma Vista stays in pretty typical indie territory, bringing us track-after-track of road trips, reiteration of platitudes, and the longing for the innocence and irresponsibility of youth. Bleating these out in the now trademark impotent tenor, Joseph Keefe is backed by even more uninspired musicianship. Fervent acoustic guitar strums, keys meant to sound like organs and the requisite horn crescendo all have their appropriate place, as though Family of the Year is running through the characteristics of indie rock as defined on its Wikipedia page. While on Loma Vistathey keep attempting to create a sense of cute likeability, one can’t help but have a feeling similar to after having some doe-eyed sixteen-year-old with a Che Guevara shirt he bought at Hot Topic share his “enlightened political insight” with you.
Though they have a benign guise and sounds, Family of the Year are, in their own way, pretty destructive. By furthering the easy reproduction of an “indie rock” sound, Family of the Year helps perpetuate the movement of independently produced and original music into electronic pop. The only difference between Family of the Year and anyone else on the Top 40 is that Family of the Year hasn’t given up the ghost that they’re legitimate independent artists, which in an odd way makes the Top 40 crew much more honest.