Despite slacker rock becoming the de-facto soundtrack for college-aged persons of the early ‘90s (and beyond), its aesthetics remain…intentionally juvenile. Okay, so the genre has birthed some genuine rippers and guitar rock anthems, but it wasn’t always the most nuanced or profound of the indie rocks—and that was kind of the point. As the ‘90s beckoned, the youth culture shifted from being Bastards of Young to a Freak Scene.
That was fine! But it’s been thirty years, and there are a lot more interesting ways to drill home the philosophy that “work sucks, I know,” without deferring to four adult men with guitars wearing eight-year-olds’ outfits.
Just like how, at a certain point into university, you and your highschool sweetheart had to admit that it really wasn’t going to work out long-distance, there comes a time to break up with slacker rock. You’ve grown older, and moved onto weirder, more nuanced, more emotionally complicated music….sexier music, even.
Here is CREEM’s guide to breaking up with slacker rock. Put on a well-fitting pair of pants, for christ’s sake, and do nothing like an adult.
Kevin Ayers, “Shouting in a Bucket Blues”
Let’s start with the original slacker himself, Kevin Ayers. Extremely talented—yet somewhat ambitionless—Ayers churned out a number of incredible albums between bouts of trying to live on a beach, surviving off coconuts. Something of a bon vivant, Ayers also inspired one of my favorite John Cale songs, “Guts”, which Cale wrote after Ayers slept with his wife the night before they recorded June 1, 1974, the live album also featuring Brian Eno and Nico.