Indie Pop Essentials
Punk was the triumph of amateurism over virtuosity, but not every disaffected neophyte was interested in aggression. By the turn of the ’80s, punk’s DIY aesthetic was being applied to all manner of non-punk sounds—including the jangly ’60s rock and girl-group soul that formed the cornerstones of indie pop. Trailblazers like Orange Juice showed that literary romanticism and melodic sophistication could flourish in the underground, like flowers poking through cracks in pavement. Those proverbial flowers blossomed into a bouquet through the erudite anthems of The Smiths, but for every crossover act, there were countless other anoraked outsiders—gathered on 1986’s scene-defining C86 compilation—building their secret societies one wistful seven-inch at a time. And as spiritual successors like Belle and Sebastian and The Postal Service respectfully expand the palette with orchestral and electronic sounds, indie pop has become a vast umbrella under which wallflowers can congregate to contemplate the rain.