For a while there “indie” was a dirty word; a bit like “teeny bop”, or Tony Abbott. But over the last couple of years, the antipathy towards this inoffensive label has been somewhat ameliorated. Partly because enough time has elapsed between the dying sounds of the genre’s last dinosaurs, but mostly due to the advent of young bands who are making indie cool again. And one of the newest bands to help the cause are Brisbane’s Youth Allowance.
The dusty house that is indie rock has it’s windows blown open by Youth Allowance, the four-piece bringing everything we love about the genre to Overthinker.
Formed in late 2013 Youth Allowance are a classic four piece and have a talent for writing hooks so catchy they’re like aural velcro. On the brink of releasing their debut EP, the band have already reached number one on the Unearthed Indie Charts with their first single Running. With bright guitar licks and a toe-tapping beat, it’s four and half minutes of infectious indie gold. Swiftly following a strong debut, Youth Allowance are now onto their second single, Overthinker.
Nearly a decade on, the ‘indie landfill’ bands of the 2000s are prime for nostalgia, and Overthinker definitely hits the spot for those old enough to remember the first time. But even if you weren’t dancing to Bloc Party and Maxïmo Park back in 2006, it won’t take much more than the intro to get you going. Leading in with a plucky bass line that transmutes into a delicious lick that carries the whole track, Overthinker hooks you right at the start.
Propelled by a solid beat topped off with the urgent, satisfying hiss of the hats which cut right through the sound and bring up the pace. The production on the track is tight, concentrating on refreshingly bright, articulated sounds rather that mashing layers together with fuzz or reverb. The clipped tone to the drumming and staccato off-beat strumming from the guitar is softened by William Briskey’s lyrical vocals. Plunging through energetic riffs and held up by sturdy bass lines, there is definitely something of the golden era indie in Youth Allowance’s writing, but the vocal line has the same sort of anthemic feel that saw clubs full of kids euphorically belting out Banquet and I Bet you Look Good On The Dancefloor.
This might be sounding like Youth Allowance have just rummaged through stock boxes from some once-cool-now-broke record label. But the true beauty of this kind of indie rock, and what Youth Allowance have nailed, is the unabashed elation of it. Infectious and joyful, there’s a reason why kids are still belting out the Arctic Monkeys and dancing along to someone singing about dancing to Joy Division. Indie made guitar music cool again, and much like the pop music it was competing with, it takes a lot of skill to write classic tracks like these.
Youth Allowance, in their turn, are a pretty convincing argument to make indie cool again with their own spin on all the above. In fact I’ve probably been over thinking this whole thing*, and really all that matters is that Overthinker is brilliant, delicious song on every count.
*Ed: See what she did there? Nice!