Album Review: ‘Being No One, Going Nowhere’
STRFKR

BADMAN RECORDING CO.

BADMAN RECORDING CO.

For indie rock buffs across the country, this is an exciting decade. Since the genre broke into the mainstream in the early 2000s, the style and tone of the music has radically matured, departing from its grunge and classic rock roots to becoming an entirely new genre. STRFKR’s new album “Being No One, Going Nowhere” exhibits the changes contemporary indie rock has experienced, blending rock and electronic elements into a genre that is both excitingly novel and enjoyable.

In many ways, STRFKR is a strange band. Since its founding in 2007, the Portland-based band has managed to produce poppy, energetic indie beats, while studiously avoiding the tropes and cliches that have beset both the pop and indie genres. This careful balance is revealed in the band’s name, which began as an ironic wink on the part of Joshua Hodges, STRFKR’s founder.

Avoiding easy categorization, “Being No One, Going Nowhere” is an amalgamation of several trends in indie music, combining pop-rock rhythms and electronic innovations to form a new sound. STRFKR represents the culmination of two decades of groundbreaking indie music in the United States, revealing the influence of electronic musicians on the indie scene through the liberal use of synthesizers and electronic beats. Experimental electronic sounds are not used simply for the sake of quirkiness but are crafted with traditional instrumentation to great effect. Arguably the best song on the album, “Open Your Eyes,” features a combination of guitar and electronic sounds, accompanied by hypnotic lyrics melded together to create a sound that feels fresh and focused.

Despite its complex influences and inspirations, STRFKR’s music remains fun, bubbly and fast-paced. Danceable beats mingle with enigmatic lyrics and electric guitar to make songs that call both for deeper listening and sheer joy of movement. “Being No One, Going Nowhere” proves that good music can also be fun music. This last quality cannot be overstated. As Hodges once said in 2014, the band’s goal is to make “dance music that you can actually listen to, that’s good pop songs, but also you can dance to it.” Despite its similarities to upbeat dance music, STRFKR’s music touches on deeper subjects through thoughtful lyrics, exploring issues such as the nature of being, death and the purpose of life. Lectures of the philosopher Alan Watts are frequently sampled and garbled, adding a mysterious quality to many of their lyrics.

“Being No One, Going Nowhere” offers a vision of what indie rock could be. By borrowing from varied genres and techniques with a keen eye on both the pleasure and the art of their music, STRFKR has made an album that points to the future of good indie music. STRFKR and other indie rock bands are riding the bleeding edge of new music, demonstrating the potent possibilities of artists who are not afraid to break from established genres and transform them in the process.

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