The Beatles, Echo and the Bunnymen, The La’s, The Coral: whichever way you look at it, Liverpool is a proud, densely rich musical landscape in the wider pantheon of British guitar-pop music, providing each generation with a defining band the locals will boast about, and probably claim tenuous links to, without fail. Newer acts, both playing up to and subverting the artistry of such ancestors – as reconciled in the psychedelic folk-trappings of Stealing Sheep and the synth-dabbling art-pop of Outfit – carry the potential to be future flag-bearers for the former city of culture’s musical diversity, though long festering in the depths of the River Mersey there lurks a presence threatening to usurp their claims. Rearing its ugly head again: twiddly indie guitar pop that is so blandly inoffensive, it’s actually offensive.
The first posse of note to emerge from this movement was, of course, The Wombats, a band that had bags under their eyes before they even began singing stupid songs about being better than Bridget Jones; a band you could feasibly imagine were engineered in some sort of sixth form laboratory, almost exclusively to soundtrack cuts in The Inbetweeners – something they did unsurprisingly amount to. Circa Waves are the latest to become entrenched in this unshakeable sludge of sound with the release of their pretty terrible new single, Stuck in My Teeth, following what was a perfectly alright debut in Get Away. Awash with a giddy riff that would be so unbelievably punchable if it had a face, basically like The Strokes circa-Angles if they’d had too many skittles at an underage disco, and exhausted, well worn themes of frolicking youths frolicking about, it’s a song that is, at the very best, quick and lively, like the aural equivalent of stubbing your toe, and isn’t pretending to be something it’s not. Where the aforementioned Liverpudlian bands at least attempt to craft an individual sound out of their influences, though, Circa Waves seem intent on mining the worst indie in 2006 had to offer, like a lackadaisical Spector without any of the intricately-coiffured appeal. It may only be their second single, but it’s so hard to look past such glaringly bland and soulless stuff, especially when it’s probably orchestrated by some studio executive, The Man, the Conservative-voting mukker down with the kids, essentially repackaging The Wombats, The Pigeon Detectives et al. – who were awful enough the first time around – with fresher faces and floppier hair to fit the fun world of record-high youthful unemployment we exist in. Because it’s just so fun, you see. And the kids should be well happy about it, dancing to this fun band. Go ahead and embrace that sweet, joyous fun, you sweet, joyous revellers in indie nostalgia. It’s beyond excessive, I know, but is there a better band to personify the apathy of Cameron’s Britain? Escapism is all good, but it should surely sound more, um, fun, than this.