Like the monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when plastic trousers start unexpectedly appearing on rock stars you know you’re in for an evolutionary leap. Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Johnny Rotten, Trent Reznor; something in the groinal static of the synthetic keck seems to spark sonic revolution.
Yungblud then, long a bugger for the shinier shinwear, was always going to make a significant mark on his musical generation. And if his new single ‘The Funeral’ is anything to go by, it’ll be by launching a new era of barnstorming, arena ready glam pomp showmanship. Here he comes now, in the video for this surrogate MCR comeback of a song, crowd-surfing in a coffin in plastic trousers of brazen, unstoppable scarlet. Welcome, if you will, to the all-new plastic slack parade.
We’ve been waiting for rock to rediscover its lust, vibrancy and attitude since Alex Turner went Elvis, but instead a sense of earnest anti-glamour has suffused the past few years of alternative British rock, be it intense and poetic (Fontaines D.C.), cathartic and socio-political (IDLES), mildly jazz/mad for the old sprechgesang (most of South London) or generally in thrall to Liam Gallagher (everything else). Bar HMLTD, little has leapt out of a dressing up box with thundering glam punk riffs going off like confetti cannons, its lipstick smeared to its ears and gobbed glittery black mascara in your eye.
Strange, because there’s clearly a hunger for a raunchier alternative. Italy’s Måneskin have given Eurovision a cultural cut-through like never before with their Jane’s Addiction meets Greta Van Fleet aesthetic and uncynical deployment of QOTSA riffs on the pop equivalent of a Yo! Sushi conveyor belt. The new wave of pop punk, headed up by Olivia Rodrigo, Machine Gun Kelly and Willow, has unapologetically embraced both the tone and glamour of mainstream pop and gone full ‘Basket Case’ on the charts. And the recent rebranding of the sexier end of the ‘00s as indie sleaze is further evidence that there’s life in ripped-catsuit rock yet.
Indeed, indie sleaze marks an unprecedented opportunity for rock culture. It’s a new name for something that didn’t even have a name in 2007, and thus totally open to adoption by the current crop of stylish, sexy, in-your-face glam rock/electro beasts mustering behind Yungblud’s banner: Nova Twins, Cat SFX, Lynks, Dream Wife, Dream Nails, Lauran Hibberd and plenty more besides. Wet Leg have certainly upped indie’s muffin-buttering game of late, and Wolf Alice‘s Ellie Rowsell clearly got the memo before taking the stage at Hammersmith Apollo the other week, prowling and strutting around like a fabulous scene queen.
Perhaps the retrospective invention of indie sleaze is the starting pistol on a full-on onslaught of pomp, glam and sex in mainstream rock – we’re certainly about ready for a burst of maximalist, celebratory bombast best enjoyed in cult-like groups of 20,000 or more rather than on Tim Burgess’ Twitter feed. I certainly hope so – I’ve just invested heavily in a shipment of black market thigh grease.