Seven Nu Rave Songs That Still Actually Bang

It's a rave Dave!

Picture this: the year is 2007. You’ve just finished your GCSE’s. The summer is stretched out ahead of you like a three-month long episode of Skins and Brexit is just a glint in Nigel Farage’s eye. Who the hell is Nigel Farage, anyway? It was a halcyon time. Adulthood seemed just around the corner and along with it the freedoms and opportunities we were all naive enough to believe it would bring.

While its cultural impact was a far cry from that of ‘67s Summer of Love, or ‘85s Revolution Summer, 2007 did have a soundtrack. One that went hand in hand with my generation’s love of Topman, underage club nights and buying bags of dubious cat piss-smelling powders on the internet.

Though nu rave’s lack of longevity was nothing short of impressive, seemingly gone from its haunts of Shoreditch and Hoxton long before it ever even reached us Northern monkeys up in Manchester, there were some stand out tracks from the genre that hold up even today.

We’ve rounded up seven of the genre’s best. 

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Hadouken! – 'That Boy That Girl'

Hadouken! felt like something of a paradox within the nu-rave scene. On the one hand, they were an anomaly, seemingly more self-aware than most bands on offer, they fused the grime of south London with the synth-heavy sounds of nu-rave, on the other, they personified the genre, its fashions, its irony.

‘That Boy, That Girl’ is arguably the band’s best known single and offers and telling insight into the Hoxton hipsterdom that was populating the pages of Vice. Feeling like both a send-up and a homage to a certain period of London life, lyrics such as “you look silly / When you put on your best Myspace pout” might not hold up today, but back in 2007 this was cool as fuck, don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Unbelievably Hadouken! didn’t announce their hiatus until 2014. We can safely assume it was by Myspace bulletin however, and that was why no one noticed.

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Does It Offend You, Yeah? – 'Epic Last Song'

While Does It Offend You, Yeah? might not be the first band to jump to mind when one thinks of nu-rave, the band are a prime example of how the genre didn’t have be anarchic and obnoxious. Though released in 2008, it’s erratic synths and pounding drums were enough to hark back to the genre’s glory days while harbouring a woozy sense of nostalgia that was more akin to bands like I Was A Cub Scout than anything else.

Though there were other tracks that managed to showcase a softer, more sensitive side to the genre than most of what people remember, ‘Epic Last Song’ succeeds in standing out, not just within the band’s own canon, but across the genre as a whole.

The band might only have lasted two albums, but this song at least is proof that nu-rave was more three dimensional than people gave it credit for.

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Klaxons – 'From Atlantis To Interzone'

Annoying for its ability to make every high school kid with a pair of skinny jeans think they can play synth.

Amazing for it’s ability to epitomise the genre’s pretentions (its a name a William Burroughs reference), ‘From Atlantis to Interzone’ might not be the first song one remembers when thinking of the nu rave royalty that is The Klaxons, that arguably falls to ‘Golden Skans’, but what ‘Atlantis…’ lacks in terms of subtlety, it more than makes up for in sheer dayglo obnoxiousness.

Abrasive synths, rumbling bass and skittering drums, it ticks all the boxes and even succeeded in out nu raving itself when Hadouken! got hold of it for a remix. The only thing that could possibly have been more nu-rave was if frontman Jamie Reynolds was dating C.S.S. frontwoman Lovefoxx at the same time.

Oh, wait…

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C.S.S. – 'Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above'

Speaking of CSS, the Sao Paulo based four-piece might have better known tracks, the likes of ‘Alala’ and ‘Off the Hook’ enjoying arguably more than their fair share of sync deals, but it was the band’s first single on Sub Pop that seemed to embody nu-rave’s hipster hedonism more than any other. The disco bassline, the sugary synth hooks, and treble-soaked percussion all work to create a fizzy and frothy offering that holds up even by today’s standards.

And while it’s difficult to lump the Brazilian band in with those London bands – not least because they outlived most of them – C.S.S. reflect a very different period in both Topman’s profits and E4’s viewing figures and for that at least, we can be nostalgically, if not eternally, grateful.

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The Sunshine Underground – 'Borders'

While this particular track might well lack much of the electronic elements we’ve come to associate with nu-rave, and indeed much of the band’s later electronic emphasis also, ‘Borders’ was yet another example of the genre’s more sensitive side. Able to encapsulate the feelings of that particular summer in three and a half minutes of soaring and optimistic indie pop, it’s a triumphant and seminal song that still feels just as fresh at did nearly fifteen years ago.

Perhaps what’s most impressive, is The Sunshine Underground were still gigging and releasing solid records up until 2016, proving the fact that while the genre itself might have been a flash in the pan, many of the bands that popularised it had much more to offer than Lightning Bolt t-shirts and abrasive synth hooks.

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Trash Fashion – It’s A Rave Dave

I honestly couldn’t even remember the name of this band before writing this article. The song however, the song will be forever burned into my temporal lobe. It was impossible for me to go on a night out without someone shouting this in my face back in 2007.

And while Trash Fashion themselves might have had their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, no-one with names such as Jet Storm and Bam Bam can take themselves seriously after all, there were plenty of people that did take them seriously. Harbouring more ironic self- awareness than even Hadouken!, Trash Fashion felt like the an aural equivalent to Channel 4’s Nathan Barley.

We knew we were having the piss taken out of us, but with enough snakebites and black and mephedrone in our system, it really didn’t matter.

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The Gossip – Standing In The Way of Control (Soulwax Nite Remix)

No mention of nu-rave can be complete without mention of The Gossip, and more specifically the Soulwax Nite remix of their seminal single 'Standing In The Way Of Control'.

Not only was it the theme song to E4’s Skins, but it was also the theme song to almost every single one of the underage clubnights that seemed to erupt around this time across the UK. Three and a half minutes of frenetic bass, clattering percussion and Beth Ditto’s inimitable vocal, ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ wasn’t just a nu-rave anthem, it was an objectively good song that arguably holds up far better than anything else on this list and across the genre as a whole.

While the band might have formed well before 2007, this was their breakthrough single, without which, it’s quite easy to say there wouldn’t have been nu-rave at all. At least, not as we knew it. 

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Words: Dave Beech

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