Every Record I Own - Day 255: Constantines s/t
I’ve already covered Constantines’ final album, but now we’re going back to the beginning with their self-titled debut.
As I mentioned in my last post about the band, Constantines were my favorite rock band of the ‘00s. It was an interesting decade for rock music. The ‘90s had seen a huge swell in the underground in the wake of Nirvana and the pop-punk explosion, but some tipping point was reached in the ‘00s and it suddenly felt like everyone was in a band. Technology in the form of social media allowed young hopeful artists to connect with prospective audiences, and technology in the form of digital audio files allowed records to be made quickly, cheaply, and with a corrective sparkle and shine.
The market became oversaturated, and by the end of the decade people were buying more tickets for hiphop, EDM, and DJs than they were for rock bands. For someone whose livelihood comes from playing in a rock music, this should’ve been distressing, but I understood the situation. There was a lot of mediocre rock music out there, and people got tired of it. Hell, I was tired of it.
Rock was trying too hard to be perfect. And if you want perfect, you should listen to something built with software. Maybe that’s why hiphop and EDM are currently the driving forces in the music industry. Amazing things can be done with all the new recording and composing programs on the market, but something about all this music made with digital audio workstations feels uninspiring to me. It’s taken me years to figure out what specifically bothers me about it, but I think I’ve finally figured it out:
Modern popular music is almost entirely about composition, and completely apathetic towards performance. Yeah, you can make really cool sounding recordings in Ableton, but there isn’t a lot of spontaneity, signature identity, happy accidents, impulse, off-the-cuff interplay, or natural room ambience to these records. And even a lot of contemporary underground rock music tries to keep these factors to a minimum. But Constantines? They were all about performance. They were rough around the edges while also being an incredibly tight band. Listening to their self-titled debut, they already sounded like a band that had an intuitive chemistry together. The album sounds alive, pensive, desperate, weary, tense, and charmingly flawed. Yes, they could compose a great song, but the way they performed a song was so distinctively dynamic, emotive, personal, and real that they felt like an anomaly for the era.