Post-punk head Leo Joslin discusses how lockdown has reshaped his musical landscape
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Cut me and I’ll bleed post-punk. Or that’s what I would’ve expected. But I’ve noticed in the last year that I’m no longer excited by the same music I once was. Of course, old favourites remain so: Protomartyr is still the answer I churn out whenever anyone makes a request for my favourite band, Joy Division will probably always be a rock-steady member of my desert island disks, I still get sad when I think how The Cure went from Pornography to The Lovecats with one release. But it’s my relative lack of excitement about the current roster of 6 Music-backed, sullen and dolorous rockers that makes me wonder if my tastes have changed. Whereas before a band like Yard Act, especially one grown so close to my home, would’ve had me banging on the door of the Brudenell waiting for their next show, I must admit that I think I’ve only listened to them second-hand from background radios and friends’ car speakers. Bands like Squid or Girl Band I’ll listen to, acknowledge their proficiency at producing good post-punk, then forget about the song pretty much straight away. Even with Dry Cleaning, a band I’ve been following since 2019 was spent playing Magic of Meghan on loop, I still haven’t listened to their debut LP.
I’m fed up of seeing bands posing with dour expressions in front of sixties council blocks whose interiors their middle-class upbringing kept them the other side of town from
Part of me suspects these are unfortunate casualties of a lack of enthusiasm brought about by the increasingly common cliches that post-punk bands seem to employ now. I’m fed up of seeing bands posing with dour expressions in front of sixties council blocks whose interiors their middle-class upbringing kept them the other side of town from; tired of early twenty-somethings all dressing like Wilson-era furniture salesmen; bored of singers trying to deploy some Ian Curtis-style erratic dance moves. When I was growing up musically as a teenager, post-punk was something fresh and exciting. Each new band I found seemed unique, with its own styles, both musically and visually. Now there’s a cooker-cutter pattern, norms that new groups have to fit in with, expectations of what they look and sound like. No longer is it an effort to fit new groups into one genre, but instead an effort to mark them out.
The other part of me however suspects that this emigration away from post-punk is something more than just me growing tired of a diluting genre. The pandemic and its isolating side effects have changed the way that I consume music, as I’m sure it has for many others. Music has lost its communal aspect: instead of listening to music at a friend’s house or in the office it’s now done by yourself, working from home; instead of experiencing the mutual energy of a gig, we sit in our bedrooms watching live streams from empty venues. Because the way we interact with music has changed, so too has the music with which we choose to interact. In the last year, I’ve been listening to much more jazz and folk, sounds suited to the solo lifestyles we have been leading. I don’t walk to work so I don’t listen to as much heavy music, I don’t go out to tinnitus-encouraging gigs so I don’t listen to that same music when I’m on my own. What music I gravitate towards has changed during, and because of, lockdown, with the more communal forms taking the hit.
In an effort to see how other people felt and pretend this isn’t an article entirely about myself, I asked my fellow music enthusiast and radio friend Harvey Falshaw if lockdown had changed how he listens to – and what he looks for in – music. Although for him it hadn’t changed too much regarding the type of genre he listened to, lockdown had made its mark on the way music was consumed and where it came from, with much more reliance on radio. The reason I wanted to ask Harvey was because I know how keen he is on new music from across the spectrum (and I knew he’d give me a good reply). For Harvey, “lockdown has meant I consume less new music and discover less because I have less of an appetite to listen”. For him, music was a mode of relaxation: “I listen to music to relax but I’ve found that hard to do in lockdown”.
Because of the absence of the social parts of society that we’ve always had until last year, I listen to less music that before I associated with having a communal dimension
Although we’re in slightly different boats to each other, for both of us the change in situation brought about by lockdown has changed the way we consume music. For Harvey, because there is no longer a clear separation between work and personal life and he finds it harder to relax, the passion for seeking out new music has taken a hit. For me, because of the absence of the social parts of society that we’ve always had until last year, I listen to less music that before I associated with having a communal dimension. Post-punk is the most social of genres: I have no doubt that I feel so passionately about groups like Idles or METZ because listening to them reminds me of being packed into a sweatbox of a venue, sharing the same thing with dozens of others. The music is elevated by the shared experience of listening and the passion that people bring to that. As things ease up and the prospect of live music is somewhere on the horizon, I’m sure my own passion for post-punk will return, all it needs is a few gigs.