Right after Brit-pop happened in the mid-90s, music coming out of Britain took on a more sombre tone, and certainly a more moodily earnest one, with bands like Coldplay and Travis filling pages of Q Magazine where Blur and Pulp once ruled supreme. In many ways, this was a drastic swing in the opposite direction of Brit-pop, which was about artifice, and a kind of ebullient irony.
But, maybe it was the letdown of the New Labour movement in Britain that was supposed to be so much more than the staid conservatism that had been in place for so long. Or maybe it was that by the early 2000s, the darkness of the world was too intrusive to be ignored, with planes hitting buildings, the ensuing leaps in political and military logic, and wars on terror splashed out on the pages of national newspapers.
Where this song isn’t an overt protest against the actions of governments, I think there is a certain feeling in it that a time of innocence, of safety is over. Suddenly, the freedom to take risks comes at a higher cost, where keeping ‘blood on the inside and nowhere else’ is a simple, and simplistic mantra.
In some ways, this is the polar opposite of traditional rock ‘n’ roll rebellion, railing against the Man in a bid for personal freedom. This is more about the kind of feeling you get when you realize that the dealings and methodologies that shape the world pale in comparison to the bigger questions of why we’re here at all – “What does it matter in the grand scheming sky/all that I multiply adds up to nothing”.
These sentiments are not new to the times in which they were created, of course. They are a part of the human experience. As such, this is a snapshot of the human psyche at its most fearful moment; the moment when the absurdities of the world make us question the point of everything. And where the happy, bouncy pop song that helps us gain perspective on this, we need its darker twin just as much to appeal to the twinges of doubt, and the helplessness, that we feel just as keenly.
For more information about Turin Brakes, and more music, check out the Turin Brakes MySpace page.