Pitchfork Reviews Reviews is a blog that throws a little playful criticism back in the face of the music blog who has taken over popular musical taster. It’s run by a recently-graduated Brooklynite named David who pens the reviews on his way to work every morning on the subway. The blog has since moved on to posts about music in general. David recently was able to interview Lil’ Wayne at an appearance in Chelsea.
One post described the chillwave movement as a product of the state of the economy. I immediately related to the astute observation about the explosion of dreamy, lo-fi, airy, beach music since 2008. Blog post here, excerpts below:
There’s a general understanding among economists, and this might be true among scholars in other fields too (about their respective disciplines) but i didn’t study other fields so I don’t know, that history can be accurately understood through an economic lens and almost any mass idea or action can be tied to a parallel circumstance in the economy, and also that there are superficial circumstances that are put forth as explanations for these ideas or actions but if you dig deep enough, or sometimes you don’t even have to dig that deep, there’s an economic motivation to explain anything. Wars, art movements, political movements, trends in mass psychology, etc., can be explained via the economy. There are aesthetic changes that shroud economic changes — as they say, “Cash rules everything around me.”
And sometimes I read Pitchfork reviews for chillwave records or witch house records and think of how often they review a record and use words like “amniotic”, “womblike”, or “womb” to describe it — it’s pretty constant, right? Five or ten years ago, every other twentysomething band wasn’t making hazy, woozy, droney, “womblike” music. There was no band called Baths and no crop of hundreds of projects that sound like Washed Out, but suddenly, since 2009, there are multiple micro-movements that sound like nosedives back into the uterus, “amniotic”, maybe because the world has gotten too hopeless and terrifying to handle. Two years ago, bands like Toro Y Moi (age 23) and Baths (age 21) and the hundreds of other projects that sound like that might have been (or were) on “the beach” musically, because two years ago it seemed like the economy might recover soon and the beach was a fun place to wait it out or escape it temporarily. Now they’re crawling back into bed or getting into the bath.
Missing the idea that chillwave and its siblings are the product of a collapsing economy and the instinct to escape it, and the effect the economy is having on the first generation of kids to have it worse than their parents, including kids who graduate prestigious schools and wind up working at the supermarket and kids who have no hope of making a decent living as a musician for very long if at all, is like thinking that Citizen Kane is a movie about a sled. Every music writer that has written about chillwave and neglected to understand this has failed the kids who make it. Chillwave is an economic phenomenon, and it’s the sound of kids who are long past anger and frustration and defiance.