25 indie pop albums

30 July 2014

London has been pretty hot this summer. It's been half-a-month of sunny days that flirt with 30 degrees. Each day is "the warmest day of the year". Its perfect weather for going to the park, drinking beer and finding any excuse not to get on public transport.

I've been walking a lot. My playlist changes seasonally. Wintertime is when I throw my hood up and delve into my hip-hop collection, but warm weather calls for something sunnier. Something that puts a smile on my face. So I've been spinning my indie-pop playlist.

As part of an irregular series, I thought I’d share some of my favourite albums from this genre.

"Indie pop" is a hard thing to describe. It’s also know as Twee or C86 or Jangle Pop. It kind of came out of Glasgow in the 1980s, influenced by older American movements (Motown, Phil Spector and California beach music) and contemporary scenes like punk and Northern soul. Over the last three decades it's evolved in a lot of different directions. While all indie pop falls under the umbrella of indie rock, only a small section of indie rock can be called indie pop. It’s defined by melody. Indie pop songs are built around simple arrangements. The lyrics are circumspect and hopeful rather than cynical or angsty. It’s sweet, thoughtful music.  And it's incredibly easy to dance to.

That definition is rather vague and leaves quite a bit of room for innovation. But after a while it’s obvious what is indie pop and what isn't really. Despite what Wikipedia erroneously says, Best Coast and Mumford & Sons aren't indie pop bands. 

The bands on this list all make me smile as I'm walking around in the sun. I've listed 25 albums, and only one from each act.

I've included my favourite song from each album. A lot of these aren't on Youtube so I've had to use Spotify links.

At the very least this will serve as good practice if you find yourself being dragged out to my favourite London dance night

“All Girl Summer Fun Band” by All Girl Summer Fun Band (Portland, 2001)
My favourite song: “Car Trouble

“Allo Darlin’” by Allo Darlin’ (London, 2010)
My favourite song: “If Loneliness Was Art

“Moment Bends” by Architecture in Helsinki (Melbourne, 2011)
My favourite song: “W.O.W.

“Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant” by Belle & Sebastian (Glasgow, 2000)
My favourite song: “The Model

“Mars Loves Venus” by The Brunettes (Auckland, 2004)
My favourite song: “Loopy Loopy Love

“Helping Hands” by Butcher Boy (Glasgow, 2011)
My favourite song: “I Am The Butcher

“Let’s Get Out Of This Country” by Camera Obscura (Glasgow, 2006)
My favourite song: “Let’s Get Out Of This Country

“Snowball” by The Field Mice (London, 1989)
My favourite song: “Everything About You

“God Help The Girl” by God Help The Girl (Glasgow, 2009)
My favourite song: “A Down and Dusky Blonde

“Heavenly vs. Satan” by Heavenly (Oxford, 1991)
My favourite song: “I Fell In Love Last Night

“Love & Glitter, Hot Days and Music” by Helen Love (Swansea, 2000)
My favourite song: “Atomic Beat Boy

Night Falls over Kortedala” by Jens Lekman (Gothenburg, 2007)
My favourite song: “A Postcard to Nina

“Songs About You” by Language Of Flowers (Belfast, 2004)
My favourite song: “Who You’re With

“Naturaliste” by The Lucksmiths (Melbourne, 2003)
My favourite song: “There Is A Boy That Never Goes Out

“Holiday” by The Magnetic Fields (Boston, 1994)
My favourite song: “Strange Powers

“Belong” by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (New York, 2011)
My favourite song: “Even in Dreams

“Flight Paths” by Pocketbooks (London, 2009)
My favourite song: “Footsteps

“The Shop Assistants/Will Anything Happen” by The Shop Assistants (Edinburgh, 1986)
My favourite song: "Seems to Be

“Gentlefication Now!” by The Smittens (Vemront, 2003)
My favourite song: “My Girl

“The Boy I Wish I Never Met” by A Smile And A Ribbon (Malmo, 2007)
My favourite song: “Pebbles

“It’s Rag Time!” by Soda Fountain Rag (Bergen, 2008)
My favourite song: “Driving In Your Car

“Backwash” by Talulah Gosh (Oxford, 1996) –  this is a compilation of their songs from 1986-88 because they didn't release any LPs
My favourite song: “Talulah Gosh

“Film Molecules” by Tender Trap (London, 2002)
My favourite song: “Son of Dorian Gray

“Old Traditions, New Standards” by Tullycraft (Seattle, 1996)
My favourite song: “Sweet

“Things You Used To Say” by Very Truly Yours (Chicago, 2010) 

My favourite song: “I’d Write You A Song