Well, this can hardly be bad news. Jessica seems convinced that Britney is likely to be working with Max Martin on her new album; but I hope she casts her Scandinavian net a little wider, too. Max Martin has recently been doing a nice line in 80s style soft rock, but Avril Lavigne and Fefe Dobson have already cornered that market. But there’s also Linda Sundblad who, apart from the early-Madonna “Oh Father” and the Lacan-meets-a-Stock Aitken and Waterman-B-side genius of “Cheat” (both on her myspace) has been attempting a particularly well-crafted impersonation of Depeche Mode (split the difference between “Pretty Rebels” and “Lose You,” and you’ve pretty much got “Enjoy the Silence”). Or Robyn attempting what the Americans call “New Wave” with “Who’s that Girl,” and there’s some 80’s lineage to “Be Mine” which I can’t entirely decipher, but I have a feeling it involves Roxette.
I’ve been wondering why I’m so much more sympathetic to this kind of musical recreation than I am to apparently similar excursions in indie music. I think Ian Penman provides a clue when he mentions Benjamin’s Arcades Project in connection with hauntology:
Benjamin takes something supposedly trivial and superficial – in classic Marxist terms – something brittle and shiny and mirror-image, and hears every sort of note in the world inside its strange dated echo chamber.
I have really been paying much attention to the various discussions about hauntology, but this chimes with what I like about people like Burial; the eeriness that time adds to what would previously have been a trivial part of the everyday background. This doesn’t necessarily require any special intention; the last time I was in London, I happened to be on a train travelling through Peckham, listening to an old-school d’n’b show on Rinse FM, and I was distinctly disturbed by the music seemed so appropriate to the city, yet so impossible (“in what strange other time could this sort of music be made?”).
The most disposable recreations of the most disposable music exemplify this as much as anything else; and that’s one of the things that’s so interesting about these Swedish revivalists: unlike the forlorn indie band searching for an authenticity the search itself precludes, here we have a recognition and embrace of the fact that to recreate something is always an artifice; that an attempt to return to something past is always to produce something new.