Cokefloat! [Fatcat; 2012]
The twenty-year nostalgia cycle is a hell of a thing. Since the dawn of modern popular culture, each decade has been accompanied by, and some would say aesthetically grounded in, the pastiche and re-interpretation of the previous generation’s music, fashion, movies, comics, etc. But as we get sucked further into the post-modern, post-Internet, exponentially developing culturefuck quagmire that is the 21st century, this cycle has become more complicated than its predictable structure suggests. For instance, did the current ‘90s revival happen because we knew it was going to happen, or because of actual cultural impetus? Is the nostalgia cycle self-fulfilling prophecy, or is it the product of newly middle-aged media execs trying to recapture what was cool when they were kids? What happens when kids less than five years apart from each other grow up with completely different sets of technologies and mediums? Where does one generation begin and another end? And when we’re being turned onto new music not just by our older siblings but by the Internet at large, who’s to say what we’re actually nostalgic for?
An interesting result of all this is Cokefloat!, the debut album by Glaswegian band PAWS. While they draw from the bag of standard early ‘90s influences pretty heavily (Nirvana, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr. and Teenage Fanclub’s fingerprints are all over this piece), the group owes just as much to Indie revivalists like Wavves and Surfer Blood: “Jellyfish” could be an Astro Coast b-side, “Bloodline” plays with the gristly screech and stomp of Jay Reatard, and “Get Bent” is true twee (“If you don’t even know my favorite food or animal/how can I depend on you?”) by way of Ty Segall sneer. To wit: Cokefloat! carries with it the same amount of nostalgia for two years ago as it does for twenty.
Am I making this sound like a bad thing? I hope not. The album’s great, and the band bring more joy, smarts and catchy riffage to their music than almost any other group of their ilk. Unlike their tourmates Japandroids, who are content to string together lifeless, unmemorable songs full of generic platitudes about lost youth, PAWS deliver a collection of tracks that are simultaneously playful and meaningful, like the life-defining familial advice in “Catherine 1956,” The winy romance of “Miss American Bookworm,” and the stoned un-revelations of “Poor Old Christopher Robin” (which is in contention for Song Title of the Year).
Cokefloat! Is a bright, album, one makes you want to bop around your apartment and finally clean your kitchen and invite some friends over for beer and tacos and (sexy?) Twister. And it owes this freshness, this vibrancy, to the fact that while it has its place on the wheel of nostalgia, it also knows what to steal from the new, and how to run with it.
Simon Lazarus Vasta is about to spend a week in the trenches of CMJ’s Music Marathon. Follow his journey into insanity on Twitter @Hunter_S_Narc
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