100 Works of Art: (Audio) We Hate The Kids, The Indelicates

The 100 Works of Art blog post series is, in the most basic form, me rambling about the personal connections to and appreciation for works of art that I like. It is not particularly critical or intelligent, more a way of cataloguing things I consistently enjoy and reminding myself, when the world is full of infuriating news stories and people having pointless flamewars on the internet, that humanity has also produced great things. It begins with 25 posts on visual art, which starts with Matta’s “Black Virtue” triptych, and has since continued on with a few posts about audio art (i.e. music), beginning with “Let’s Go To Bed” by the Cure.

31. We Hate The Kids, The Indelicates (2006)

The Indelicates are a band whose introduction into my life I forget. I know that I came to them via their sarcastic, bitter song Our Daughters Will Never Be Free, and was given said song because I liked (and still like) The Pipettes, being told “they’re sort of the anti-Pipettes”. It wasn’t until I listened to Julia, We Don’t Live In The Sixties (an anti-activist/death of hippydom anthem) and Your Money that I realised that sweet, pop catchiness (characterised by Julia’s clear, beautiful, almost childlike voice) with bitter and often nihilistic lyrics were characteristic of the band. Anyone who has read much of this blog series will know that I have an almost pathological love of the particular cognitive dissonance in “upbeat music, downbeat lyrics”, previously described as “triumphant songs about heartbreak”, and recently on Facebook outlined as “cheerful songs about death”.

Picking one specific Indelicates song for this series was quite difficult, as alongside literary references and an interest in failed messianic figures, nihilism, cynicism, and bitterness seem to be their stock-in-trade lyrically as much as catchy and uptempo is their stock-in-trade musically, leaving me with several albums of “existential horror you can dance to” to sift through. Magnificent.

We Hate The Kids comes in the vein of Last Significant Statement and to a certain extent Sixteen, in that it’s a song about music and music fandom and the adhesive quality of idol-worship; I enjoy songs about the music industry as experienced both by fans and by bands (Dinosaurs Will Die by NoFX, Behind The Music by the Vandals, especially the latter as it served as a brilliant adjunct to the “Music Business” classes I took as part of my HNC in Music Production a couple of years ago), and as with all songs, the more bitter the better.

This particular song is ecstatic in its form: it rises to a crescendo, denigrating along the way all the fans of the band, of all bands, all the hangers-on, the businessmen involved, and the entire mythology attached to the youth culture of music. It is blazingly destructive, eschewing the sacred cows of rock and roll with the same fervour that rock and roll eschews the standard set of achievements in “normal” living, a kind of energetic end-note to a youth spent in worship of the world of music.

Perhaps in some respect this is why it, and indeed the rest of their work, appeals to me so much; it is a powerful chapter ending to a specific period of life that normally receives no farewell, no recognition of being over, leaving it to either peter out unsuccessfully, or to never quite die – with stringy fifty-and-sixty-somethings kidding themselves that they still have it in them to pogo, while their adult children sigh and move to the back of the crowd.

The allusions to rock anthems are many (“every generation gets fooled again/and every generation is to blame” slams into the Who at least twice, while “dance, dance, dance to this radio tonight” more or less picks up Joy Division and hits the listener with them), the references to business bitter and bold (“no one discusses what they don’t understand/and no one does anything to harm the brand”), and there is even an echo of one of my favourite Radiohead songs, Anyone Can Play Guitar (“this gift is an illusion, this isn’t hard/absolutely anyone can playing the fucking guitar”), but ultimately it is the rise to the euphoric nihilism of “NO MORE MUSIC, THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT” which really sells the song to me. It is by way of being the hallelujah of the hymn, and, true to its word, right afterwards everything cuts out.

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