What The Fuck Is...

What The Fuck Is New Rave?

Each week I’ll be giving you a short explanation of a particular genre. This week an extremely potted history of new rave (sorry guys I’m really busy right now)

Below is a short new rave mix to help give a sense of the sound

In all honesty this should probably be titled “What the fuck was New Rave?” given that that particular bubble has pretty much burst now. However it doesn’t mean some exploration can’t take place, right?

New Rave burst into life around 2005/06 and then caused confusion, chaos and revile in equal measures until it pretty much disappeared again around late 2007 early 2008. Even at the time it was pretty hard to pin down what this genre actually consisted of. Apparently it was some kind of 80s rave revival but done by indie kids rather than the real clubbers. However that was about a wide a scope for music as you could possibly wish for. That became much of the problem of new rave really- so many bands were included in this one label that the music managed to include just about anybody with a synthesizer and an asymmetrical haircut.

The term was originally popularised by NME, a magazine notorious for creating and forgetting of fashionable new genres faster than most of us can keep up with. This obviously meant new rave was in a contentious position from the start. In fact many people claimed (including some of those lumped in with the genre) that the whole thing was merely a ruse to sell more magazines and nostalgic 80s crap. Nevertheless a definite scene did emerge, consisting of key lynchpins Klaxons, Late of the Pier, New Young Pony Club, Cansei De Ser Sexy and (possibly) Shitdisco. And if you go listen to these peoples records from back in the day there is a similarity in sound- the frantic guitars and synthesizers mashing together to create some kind of dance music.

The Klaxons can largely be praised or blamed (depending on your stance) for popularising the genre, given that they were one of the most famous of its flock. They later claimed however that the whole thing was just a joke and that they had only used the term ironically. However this didn’t stop thousands of young hip things donning anything fluorescent they could find and dancing the night away to this stuff.

The main trouble though, and the reason why the whole thing fell apart pretty quickly, was that there was never any hard substance. What begin as a media construct quickly turned into a fashionable flash-in-the-pan scene before becoming the subject of shame and disgust for all those involved. Meanwhile everyone else got on with playing dance-punk without having to give it funny names and the world kept spinning.

If you ask anyone these days about new rave you’ll be more than likely to be met with a sneer or an explanation as to why it was all so ridiculous. Still sometimes it’s fun to take a look back and say “Just what the hell where we thinking?!”


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