Ten years on, it’s easy to see 2005 as noughties indie’s last hurrah – a year packed with so much good stuff the genre could never be the same, splintering into orchestral pop, synth-pop and watered-down indie hangovers like Scouting for Girls. We look back on the landmark year to determine whether the classics have lost their magic.
15 ‘Apply Some Pressure’ by Maximo Park
A popular anvil to lob at “landfill indie” is that it adheres to a resolutely formulaic, verse-chorus-verse song template. God bless Maxïmo Park for sticking it to the haters with ‘Apply Some Pressure’, a song that ascends from verse to chorus to super-chorus and beyond, solidifying the band’s status as the Escher of indie.
14 ‘Fuck Forever’ by Babyshambles
It was better captured in a Zane Lowe radio session the year before, but ‘Fuck Forever’’s induction to the Doherty pantheon as an official single was as vital as it was inevitable. Somehow, it still sounded good in its castrated form on evening radio.
13 ‘Girl’ by Beck
Beck showed the kids how it’s done with this enduring summer classic, somehow sounding lugubrious, elated, virtuosic and slipshod all at once. The chorus is the bit you remember, but the best bit is hearing him slip into that pre-chorus like a seal down a water-slide.
12 ‘Love is a Number’ by White Rose Movement
After years of sweaty guitar boys, White Rose Movement heralded a new dawn, namely that of the synth-pop that characterised the next half-decade. Who knows where they went next, but in 2005, this was a gasp of fresh air.
11 ‘Ring a Ding Ding’ by Brakes
Brakes compressed indie-rock down to its essential parts on underrated debut ‘Give Blood’. ‘Ring a Ding Ding’ packs in all the euphoria and melancholy you expect of the genre with its 97-second whirlwind of awesomeness, leaving you clinging to lyrics like “Dance dance dance to the monkey macaroni/I had to get out, boy, it was making me horny” as if they were treasured love letters.
10 ‘Hounds of Love’ by The Futureheads
A cover, yes, but a cover unlike any other you’d heard. ‘Hounds of Love’ turned a resplendent epic into an unlikely anthem, becoming the toast of the Futureheads’ live shows with the band’s crowd-splitting singalong gimmick, which, like most gimmicks, was more enjoyable than you’d like to admit. Best of all, it got a bunch of 14-year-olds into Kate Bush.
9 ‘Freakin’ Out’ by Graham Coxon
Coxon’s moment of glory crested a solid run of likeable solo albums, but don’t bother pretending he ever matched the frazzled majesty of ‘Freakin’ Out’, the most virtuosic punk song ever, because we’ll know your lying.
8 ‘Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)’ by The Rakes
This trademark Rakes tune might drill home the reality of modern life under the spectre of capitalist ennui, but it’s also a proper, proper anthem. Starting off like Joy Division on a Valium come-up, the track finds a blissful reverie by its chorus before fizzling out with an amusingly pernickety spoken-word rant about media students.
7 ‘So Here We Are’ by Bloc Party
After ‘Helicopter’’s distillation of the perfect indie tune a year earlier, ‘So Here We Are’ was a perfect single choice. Rather than trying to match it, like the not-quite-as-good ‘Banquet’, it revealed a new, melancholy side to the group – one they’d take as the blueprint for second record ‘A Weekend in the City’.
6 ‘Grass’ by Animal Collective
Technically Animal Collective were still in their weird phase in 2005, but ‘Grass’ stood out on the shimmery ‘Feels’ . Disarmingly catchy and lush, the song has a childlike impulsiveness that throws its breathtaking melodies off-kilter, making it all the more gratifying.
5 ‘Is This Love?’ by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Arcade Fire took the spoils, but they weren’t the only band with a vision for a brighter indie-pop future. This offensively pretty number by Philly’s Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is so breathlessly propulsive and expertly constructed you could drive to work in it.
4 ‘Do You Want To’ by Franz Ferdinand
Approximately 75 times more bizarre than the clean-cut Scots’ comeback had any right to be, ‘Do You Want To’ didn’t let having the worst lyric ever (“Here we are at the transmission party/I love your friends, they’re all so arty”) get in the way of its quest to become the best song ever about anal sex.
3 ‘Jumpers’ by Sleater-Kinney
The catchiest, most elegant song of Sleater-Kinney’s career sacrifices none of the vitality that made them rock’n’roll saviours, instead channelling electric currents of righteous energy into something magical. A tribute to Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumpers, the track is all the more powerful for its dark undercurrent.
2 ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ by Arctic Monkeys
Anyone glued to an FM radio circa 2005 will remember Zane Lowe screaming the praises of Arctic Monkeys’ debut single, which headed up the ‘Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys’ EP. “You’re not from New York City you’re from Rotherham’ was a witty, bitesize insight into the band’s early scepticism of industry wankers, and they’ve never put it better.
1 ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ by Arcade Fire
Many of the songs on this list helped define indie-rock in 2005, but Arcade Fire drew up an entirely new template that changed the face of alternative music. This song, a moving, evocative epic about a powercut in the band’s native Montreal, rains down thunderstorm riffs and instrumental tapestries so vast and finely detailed you could hang them in a gallery.