I Don’t Want to Be 16 Again

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Thanks to Labrador Records bands like the Mary Onettes and the Radio Dept., I feel like I’m back in high school again. Problem is, I’m not sure if this is a good thing.

The Mary Onettes’ 2007 self-titled debut release sounds a lot like bands I loved when I was 16—New Order, the Church, the Smiths, the Cult, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and the Cure, to name a few. I even heard hints of the Fixx in there. I was loving the CD until suddenly it hit me: It was a little too familiar. Where are the new ideas here, folks? I even checked the back of the CD to make sure it wasn’t a reissue or something. Nope, this stuff is vintage 2007.

As much as I’m willing to let a band take me back to the doom and gloom of a lot of 80s post-punk and new wave, I can only enjoy it so much. Haven’t we borrowed from that decade enough? I went to my first 80s club night in 1991; the decade had barely ended and we were already glamorizing it! I had a short attention span for 80s nostalgia then, and it’s only gotten shorter.

I like the Radio Dept. I also like the Strokes, and for that matter, bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Broken Social Scene; all of whom, in my opinion, borrow bits and pieces of 80s flair. But my interest in music like this is waning because it’s overdone, and I’d rather hear something new and creative. What are some of these musicians actually saying and thinking when they’re sitting in a rehearsal space writing new material? Are they like, “Let’s do that one drum beat that New Order does in most of their early songs,” or “This is how Robert Smith would have done it!” The Mary Onettes’ music is so eerily familiar that I wouldn’t be half surprised if that’s exactly how the conversation went.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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