For a while it was assumed that the youth of today are politically inert: on the outside, indie music in particular seemed bafflingly optimistic and worryingly calm considering we’d spent the majority of our adult lives under a Tory government synonymous with austerity and cuts to the arts. We live in an era now where we have more reasons than ever to feel angry. With austerity comes a cultural backlash, and music scenes typically thrive when they’re expected to admit defeat. Now, in DIY scenes everywhere, bands are utilising their anger and turning it into the kind of confrontational music you’d expect from the young, riled and restless.
Initially, Glasgow’s Breakfast Muff’s agitated, soft/sharp dynamics draws from the C86 parentage, particularly during the more melodic moments on tracks like ‘Arms_Brains’ and ‘Magic Carpet’ – two songs that singularly recall the deceptively fey call-and-response quality of The Pastels, for example.
Here, Breakfast Muff’s roots are in punk’s brittle ferocity, despite its pop tendencies. But rather than outright lyrical revolt, the band often manifest their dissatisfaction with modern life via the medium of humour and irony: ‘R U A Feminist’ laments the use of feminism to mask violence in a way that’s defiant but playful, while ‘Raspberry Pavlova’ furiously tackles the objection of ‘disco boys’ who throw their weight around on the dance floor. The latter elicits a loud/quiet dynamic that’s not unlike the Pixies during their epoch.
Indeed, Breakfast Muff’s brand of indignant, pop-rooted punk is not an anomaly – neither are some of the subjects they choose to confront, and it’s not easy to denote serious issues in music without sounding somewhat defeated. Despite the occasional signs of dejection, however, there are recurring themes of hope, indicated by the vibrant intransigency of Eilidh and Cal’s vocals.
‘Eurgh!’ indicates the frustration of personal grievances, rather than tackling politics head on. In some ways, though, ‘Eurgh!’ is a product of our time, denoting the new wave of acceptance, and lack thereof, of different sexualities and identities.
Elsewhere, the brilliantly bitter ‘Babyboomers’ explores the impossible expectations put on young people by previous generations: “Sorry we’re fucked up, but you made us this way… this is all for you, and all you took away” sings Eilidh, unapologetically. You could associate the lyrics with the divisiveness of Brexit, and the current discord between the old and young in Britain.
Scotland’s reputation for being one of the UK’s leading proponents of post-punk and indie pop is not a heritage concern – it’s always been that way – but it’s particularly true of what’s happening there now. See the vast amount of Breakfast Muff’s contemporaries for conviction (you can read more about that in this primer on the Glasgow scene).
The stylistic comparisons include the Shop Assistants’ melodic impulses and the accented contempt heard in the Scars’ early recordings. While this may be a tried and tested formula, it’s not necessarily easy to get right. ‘Eurgh!’ is, dare we say, unashamedly millennial, and implicit in its pissed-off puerility. This is why it triumphs, because there’s no room for subtlety in times like these.
Words: Hayley Scott
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