While “indie” began as a simple term to distinguish smaller releases from those on major labels, over time it has morphed into a genre unto itself.
The loosely structured musical style will usually have some of jangly guitars, sensitive lyrics with a sound capable of muscularity, and ideally something leftfield enough to differentiate it from mainstream rock.
Indie rock has produced some of the biggest and most critically acclaimed albums of recent years, with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead among the most admired groups in the industry. But there’s been enough chat about those records over the years.
Here, we’re focussing on the work that never gets the credit it deserves. Whether these are releases by big bands that were overshadowed by the rest of their discography, much missed bands who are still yet to get their due, or new stuff that deserves way more shine, these 10 albums don’t get spoken about nearly as often as they should.
This is an effort to redress that balance. In the ever-changing landscape of modern popular music, some stuff is always going to fall through the cracks, but these are 10 albums that deserve their place in the pantheon.
10. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral, saw them swiftly become indie’s latest critical darling, and their Grammy-winning third, The Suburbs, thrust them fully into the mainstream.
Their second, among such esteemed company, often fails to get a look in, which is a shame, because it often demonstrates the group’s greatest strengths with streamlined focus.
Neon Bible has the melancholy of Funeral and the anthemic qualities of The Suburbs, but without the latter’s often flattened, overly radio-friendly sound. “Intervention” and “No Cars Go” are stadiu-ready, but complete with daring instrumentation and a sense of worldly weirdness that would be sanded off in albums to come.
The title track is a rare exercise in restraint, shuffling and half-whispered, and “Windowsill” pulls real emotion from the band’s often questionable lyrics. The record starts and ends with two outright explosive rockers, not something Arcade Fire attempt too often; closer “My Body Is A Cage” is a worthy end to the band’s most clearly political album, a roar of frustration from a band ready to take the mantle of worldbeaters.