Ten years ago, a love affair with glamorous indie Rock’n’Roll was ignited when The Killers released their debut album. As the first five consecutive tracks of ‘Hot Fuss’became indie disco staples, the band were woven firmly into the fabric of British guitar music, despite their Las Vegas origin. To celebrate its birthday, we’ve picked 15 other classic indie albums from 2004.
Long before Johnny Marr started faffing around with The Cribs, Modest Mouse were crafting incisive indie with an ear for a chorus. ‘Good News…’ received unanimously good reviews, with ex-NME editor Krissi Murison labelling single ‘Float On’”so flaming good it’ll make you go goo-goo”, before exclaiming “if the world wasn’t full of bastards, it’d be a number one single by now.”
With the pressure of recreating debut ‘Highly Evolved’s success weighing heavy on their shoulders, The Vines flew to LA to produce their second effort, ‘Winning Days’ . The record spawned huge single ‘Ride,’ which NME’s Ihmran Ahmed described as “menacing like Oasis if they used Hello Kitty handclaps and sounded like the Back to the Future high school dance.”
From their razor-sharp suits to Alex Kapranos’s cutting snarl, Franz Ferdinand were a band who meant business. Their self-titled debut can be held solely responsible for the popularisation of the term ‘angular’ to describe guitar riffs. It got NME writer Anthony Thornton all of a dither, labelling it “the album that’s going kick open the door for all the great British bands.”
The Cure released their self-titled record in 2004, dogged by rumours that it would be their last. This was not to be the case, but what ensued was still ‘heavier, more menacing and more rhythmic than ever’ according to NME’s Rob Fitzpatrick. Perfectly befitting of the albums artwork, designed to represent ‘a good and a bad dream’. Luckily what laid inside was no nightmare, earning 8/10.
Razorlight’s debut ‘Up All Night’ was everything that indie was waiting for: big tunes, big hair and even bigger egos. Tim Jonze approved, saying “they cut out the dross and squeeze other bands’ back catalogues into three-minute bursts of ampheta-pop.” Ampheta Pop? A new genre is born.
Pipping Arctic Monkeys to the post in the ‘who made regional accents cool first’ competition, The Futureheads may have found fame with that Kate Bush cover, but their debut proved they had enough material of their own. NME’s Pat Long was a fan, slapping on a 8/10 and admitting “you want to stick around for album two from this band, an idea which shouldn’t be as groundbreaking as it is.”
It’s a certain sort of band that can pull off the matching cravat, but Swedish fivesome The Hives gave it a good go on ‘Tyrannosaurus Hives’. The infectious pomp of ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ was brilliantly ridiculous, rolling over and begging to be used on a commercial. NME went along for the ride, with James Snodgrass describing it as being “like playing a game of Your New Favourite Song.”
Rightful kings of the 00s indie darling throne, The Libertines’ second LP was a romantic and beguiling affair whose release caught NME breathless. “It’s some of the most exhilarating and brilliant rock’n’roll of the past 20 years, destined to be glued to discerning CD-players everywhere” enthused Anthony Thornton, firmly pinning a number 9 badge upon Carl and Pete’s military jackets.
Another act who threw their name into 2004’s ‘gobbiest new band’ tombola was Kasabian. Single-handedly turning ‘oooosh!’ into an adjective, ‘Kasabian’ was chock-full of bassy bangers that were as comfortable at a football match as they were on daytime telly. NME’s Paul Moody joined the ruckus, saying “a youth spent immersed in the Midlands hardcore techno scene gives them a menace.”
Earning itself a 9/10 score in NME upon its March 2005 UK release, Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ entered the world in September 2004. It kicked started a career of critical success early, for few could deny it’s poetic, almost universal appeal: Ihram Ahmed wrote “For those of us who still believe in music’s power to redeem, ‘Funeral’ feels like detox, the most cathartic album of the year.”
Before Amy Winehouse enabled them all to buy mansions with the ‘Valerie’ royalties, The Zutons brought a brand of sax, drugs and rock’n’soul that was as radio friendly as it was intriguing. Tim Jonze wasn’t entirely convinced, giving them a 7/10, but still commended their “determined attempts to twist something new out of retro influences… a fine debut that hints at a finer future.”
Having toured with godfathers of gloom The Cure for the majority of 2004, Interpol learnt from the best when crafting their second effort ‘Antics’. Our writer Rob Fitzpatrick claimed the record “opened up their sound…unafraid to lay themselves completely bare while great walls of dense, black noise boil up around them.” The misery clearly paid off, earning them a healthy 8/10 score.
In the dark historical BSOF ages (before ‘Sex On Fire’), Kings Of Leon were hipster band du jour, making critics cry with their lustrous locks and Southern-soaked riffs. ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ saw them build on the successes of their debut and convert Rob Fitzpatrick: “I never really got Kings Of Leon” he mused in an 8/10 review, “but I fell in love with this record immediately.”
Still flirting on the peripheries, Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear member Ed Droste released the bands debut ‘Horn of Plenty’ almost ten years ago, as a moniker for his solo work. Whilst it didn’t boast any of the big singles that featured on 2009 full-band breakthrough ‘Veckatimest’, it hinted at a future of Beach Boys harmonies and dark sensibilities, a band capable of capturing hearts.
Whilst The Ordinary Boys are probably unlikely to be inducted into any Halls Of Fame any time soon, their 2004 debut captured the era perfectly, a wry observation of British culture. Whilst an ‘ironic’ appearance on Celebrity Big Brother soon after was a bit of an own-goal, the lyrics entertained Barry Nicolson, who called it “a superb debut; confident, assured and pissed-off.”