There were tears of dismay at NME HQ yesterday when it dawned on us that Pendulum had got to number one with their third album ‘Immersion’. Just days after selling out Wembley. Yes, that Pendulum, the ones with the ‘bleeeeeeeeurps’ and the ‘vwoooooob’s and the Australian people.
The Pendulum phenomenon is nothing new. It’s just funny that, now they’re properly huge, the critical disdain for their music has intensified.
It’s like they’ve managed to pull off all of this without ever having had a good review. To bands like Pendulum, critical scorn is their Gatorade, it replenishes their electrolytes. (And thank you to Jenna from 30 Rock for the loan of your joke).
See, critics are a hilariously predictable bunch. We almost overwhelmingly like earnest blog indie, or wilful boy-girl electro duos, or Americana about which people like to use the word ‘languid’, or grizzled old veterans returning for one last shot at the prize like Gil Scott Heron.
We overwhelmingly do not like breakbeat or drum’n’bass (unless of course it’s posing as ‘dubstep’) and we most certainly do not like tattooed metal.
We get to say we don’t like this stuff but the truth is we just don’t understand. Look how quickly Enter Shikari lost their cool as soon as it became apparent they had more in common with Pendulum than Crystal Castles. It was staggering. Frankly, most critics just find it a bit uncouth.
Truth is, what Pendulum did was completely obvious. Just as electro is dance music for indie kids, breaks were always dance music for metal people. They are the ultimate optimum endpoint for each genre in their most physical form, music that is unashamedly designed to do things for the body.
It’s not that we don’t get it, just that the very nature of this music is that you can’t intellectualise it. It’s actually stronger without us.
Pendulum were world renowned DJs on the breaks circuit long before hits got in the way. All they did was realise that if they fused both together, to the ultimate degree, then they’d hit paydirt. And so we got ‘In Silico’, where a faceless dance outfit broke out of their genre shackles in a way not seen since the Chemical Brothers. That’s exciting, isn’t it?
All they’ve done with ‘Immersion’ is taken that to its logical conclusion, bringing in crowdpleasers like Liam Howlett and In Flames to make the biggest noise possible.
I’ve never, ever come across a band who inspire so much ire as Pendulum. Why? History might prove that this is what second stages at festivals were invented for. And it feels like the gulf between “tastemakers” and the people out there living life has never been wider.
But I’m afraid that’s as far as this defence is going to go. The idea that anyone would want to listen to that kind of racket in their own homes, enough to propel an album to number one, is beyond me. But then, I’m a critic, who’ll be blogging down the front at Music Go Music while a revolution happens around me.