00s Post Punk Revival
Towards the end of the 1990s, it felt like music had changed, with the charts being dominated by nu-metal, hip-hop and bland post-Britpop bands. If you were young and followed the cult of cool, dance music was where it was at, until a little band from New York appeared on the scene and released an album called ‘Is This It’… All of a sudden double denim and a pair of converse were ‘in’ and the ripple effects of that record would be felt for the next 10 years. Whether it would be in the Garage Rock purity of The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys or the jagged dance-punk of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. The next few years gave rise to an explosion of indie guitar music, eventually culminating in an over saturation of the market and the emergence of the term ‘Indie Landfill’ and from there on out the genre became defined by its detractors. At Fopp we want to celebrate all the great albums that were released during this period, many of them holding up strong to this day, so have your drainpipe jeans and skinny ties at the ready, this is 00’s post-punk revival.
Building a devoted fan base with their interactive live performances and rousing, multi-instrumental, gang-chorus delivery, Canada’s Arcade Fire became underground favorites when they debuted in 2004 with the critically acclaimed baroque-pop-meets-indie-rock Funeral. Stylistically evolving over the years, the unabashedly earnest group took their initial foray into darker textures and electronic flourishes with 2007’s politically charged Neon Bible, the first of a string of chart-topping albums. They hit a commercial peak with 2010’s nostalgic, Grammy-winning effort, The Suburbs, which took home the Album of the Year Award in 2011. With the incorporation of heavy synths and higher concepts like modern living in a technologically connected and commercially driven world, they extended chart dominance into the late 2010s with the island-beat double-album Reflektor (2013) and the divisive, disco-kissed Everything Now (2017).
Essential Listening: Funeral CD £8 LP £30
With their nervy and literate indie rock sound, Arctic Monkeys arrived in 2005 with a blast. Assisted by rave reviews and online word of mouth (they were one of the first bands to benefit from social media), the band quickly became a sensation in the United Kingdom, where they were seen as the heir apparent to the throne left vacant by Oasis and the Libertines. Buoyed by the single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” their 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not briefly grabbed the title of fastest-selling album in British history. It landed on top of both the U.K. and U.S. rock album charts and took home the Mercury Prize. What set the group apart was Alex Turner, a singer/songwriter with a biting wit and grasp of English vernacular (not dissimilar to Paul Weller, the godfather of modern British rock). However, driven by their maverick creative spirit, Arctic Monkeys have proven highly unpredictable, reworking classic rock traditions on 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare and beefing up their guitars with the assistance of Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on 2009’s Humbug. Eventually, they also laced in some of the louche lounge aspects of Turner’s swinging side project the Last Shadow Puppets, as on 2013’s AM and 2018’s arty Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, but by that point, the band were a staple throughout the world: a respected, adventurous, and successful group who could easily be called Britain’s biggest band of the early 21st century.
Essential Listening: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not CD £7 LP £28 Favourite Worst Nightmare CD £7 LP £28
Named after French painter Jean Dubuffet’s definition of outsider art — art by prisoners, loners, the mentally ill, and other marginalized people, and made without thought to imitation or presentation — Art Brut make brilliantly simple, cleverly stupid art-punk. Upon their arrival in the early 2000s, Art Brut were tagged by NME as part of the “Art Wave” scene that also included Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, but they stood out from their contemporaries thanks to frontman Eddie Argos’ enthusiastic spoken-sung vocals and witty insights on pop music, pop culture, and relationships. On rawer albums like 2005’s debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll, as well as more polished ones such as 2011’s Brilliant! Tragic! and 2018’s Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, Argos’ one-of-a-kind viewpoint was the heart and soul of Art Brut’s music.
Essential Listening: Bang Bang Rock & Roll LP £18
East London art punkers Bloc Party mixed angular sonics with pop structures and helped shape the sound of British indie rock throughout the 2000s. Tense post-punk rhythms and dissonant guitar hooks took their cues from Gang of Four and Joy Division on the band’s 2005 debut Silent Alarm. Their debut album, Silent Alarm, appeared early in 2005 and was released by Vice Records in the States to widespread acclaim. Later that year, Silent Alarm Remixed capitalized on the band’s burgeoning popularity, as did the 2006 EP Helicopter. A Weekend in the City, Bloc Party’s second proper album, followed in 2007. A Weekend in the City leaked onto the Internet months before the album’s street date, which inspired Bloc Party to issue their third album, Intimacy, online in late summer 2008; the album was released on compact disc that fall. Late in 2009, Bloc Party went on hiatus and Okereke began working on songs on his own.
Essential Listening: Silent Alarm LP £23
!!! (chk chk chk)
Over a long, consistent career, !!! has traded in uptempo, tightly wound dance music that splits the difference between disco and punk. Guided by the vocals and vision of Nic Offer, the multi-member outfit began making records in the mid-’90s and first captured attention with their boomingly insistent 2003 single “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story),” which vaulted them to the front of the dance-punk class next to LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture. From there the band released a long string of singles and LPs that found them exploring politics on 2004’s Louden Up Now, covering Magnetic Fields and Nate Dogg on 2005’s “Take Ecstacy with Me”/”Get Up” single, expanding into disco and Afro-funk on 2013’s Thr!!!er, and generally being considered one of the most reliably fun and danceable bands of their era.
Essential Listening: Louden Up Now CD £10
Blending quintessentially British influences like Sex Pistols and the Smiths with American indie rock like Beat Happening, the Cribs became one of the U.K.’s cult favorite bands in the 2000s and beyond. Their tuneful songs, raw production, and guitar heroics made them outliers when their self-titled debut album appeared in 2004, but their authenticity — and constant gigging — soon earned them critical acclaim and chart success with 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. With 2009’s Ignore the Ignorant, the band kicked off a string of top ten selling albums that found them taking their music to its poppiest and noisiest extremes as they worked with star producers ranging from Ric Ocasek on 2015’s For All My Sisters to Steve Albini on 2017’s 24-7 Rockstar Shit. By the time of 2020’s Night Network, the Cribs were more in control of their music than ever without sacrificing any of their integrity.
Essential Listening: Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever CD £7
Marrying dark angular rock with a sharp pop sense, English band Editors emerged in the early 2000s as part of the post-punk revival that also included contemporaries Interpol, White Lies, and the Cinematics. Following their 2005 debut, The Back Room, they scored a pair of U.K. chart-toppers, including In This Light and on This Evening, which found the band incorporating more synth pop elements. They furthered that digital push on 2015’s In Dream, before striking a balance between rock and electronic with 2018’s Violence.
Essential Listening: The Back Room CD £7
With their sharply stylish mix of rock and dance music, Franz Ferdinand brought a wry sophistication to indie rock while becoming one of the U.K.’s most popular bands in the early 21st century. The Glasgow-based group arrived in the wake of the early-2000s rock revival, with bands such as the Strokes and the Libertines reminding listeners just how refreshing — and evergreen — hook-driven guitar music could be. While Franz Ferdinand had a kinship with those acts, their lineage also included the arch, angular post-punk of bands such as Wire and the witty, funky jangle of fellow Glaswegians Orange Juice. From the beginning, the group had a flair for translating arty and unexpected concepts and references into widely appealing music and visuals, whether it was the Russian Constructivism-inspired artwork that graced their early releases or the Howlin’ Wolf homage in the guitar solos of 2004’s smash single “Take Me Out.” After laying the groundwork for their sound with that year’s Mercury Prize-winning, platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated debut album Franz Ferdinand, the band soon branched out. On 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, they added more detail and nuance to their style, then expanded on the danceable side of their music on albums ranging from the dub explorations of 2009’s Tonight to the sleek disco leanings of 2018’s Always Ascending. The group continued to embellish on their signature sound in the 2020s, dabbling in electro pop and vintage glam influences on the new songs included on 2022’s best-of Hits to the Head.
Essential Listening: Franz Ferdinand CD £7 LP £25
Beginning as a big-haired, black-clad garage punk outfit and soon morphing into something more experimental, the Horrors featured singer Faris Badwan, bassist Tom Furse, guitarist Joshua Hayward, drummer Joe Spurgeon, and keyboardist Rhys Webb. The Horrors formed in the summer of 2005 and quickly gained notoriety around London for their look, sound, and brief but frantic live shows. Loog soon signed them, and the Horrors released their official debut single, “Sheena Is a Parasite/Jack the Ripper,” in spring 2006. That summer the Horrors released their second single, Death at the Chapel. The Gloves single arrived early in 2007, heralding the release of the Horrors’ full-length debut, Strange House, which arrived in the U.K. that March and in the U.S. in May. For 2009’s Primary Colours, the band worked with Cunningham and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow as co-producers, opting for a very different sound that mixed shoegaze, post-punk, and goth; the album was released by XL that spring and earned several critical raves, including NME’s Album of the Year. The Horrors self-produced their follow-up, 2011’s Skying, which featured a lighter yet still atmospheric sound that drew comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and the Psychedelic Furs. In 2012, they released the remix companion album Higher and embarked on an extensive tour. Early the following year, the single “I See You” reflected the more expansive direction of their fourth album, Luminous, which arrived in May 2014. The Horrors began work on their next full-length with Paul Epworth at London’s Church Studios in 2015, and forged a darker, rawer yet still danceable sound that borrowed from ’80s post-punk, synth-pop, and ’90s dance. The result was V, which arrived in September 2017.
Essential Listening: Primary Colours CD £8 LP £30
Since their emergence in the early 2000s, Interpol have occupied a unique space within indie rock. Not only did they — along with the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — lead New York City’s turn-of-the-century rock revival, they also helped kick-start the post-punk revival that endured well into the 2010s. On Interpol’s instant-classic 2002 debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, angular guitars and Paul Banks’ glamorous, ominous baritone owed as much to the legacy of the Chameleons, the Smiths, and the oft-mentioned Joy Division as they did to the energy sweeping through their hometown after 9/11. Over the years, their remarkable consistency on albums such as 2004’s Antics and 2014’s El Pintor helped them weather changing lineups and fashions, while 2018’s Marauder found them embracing their veteran status with newfound vigor.
Essential Listening: Turn On The Bright Lights CD £10 LP £22 Antics CD £10 LP £25
Specializing in a melodic blend of classic Brit-pop, post-punk, and new wave, Kaiser Chiefs’ early blue-collar, pub-style take on indie rock managed to split the difference between timely and nostalgic. Comprising vocalist Ricky Wilson, guitarist Andrew White, bassist Simon Rix, keyboardist Nick Baines, and drummer Nick Hodgson, Kaiser Chiefs resurrected the mod spirit of the Jam in “I Predict a Riot,” a supercharged class-of-1977 power pop single that quickly electrified the British press when it was released in 2004. The song was inspired by Wilson’s days as a club DJ in Leeds, England, where the group was formed. The single and Kaiser Chiefs’ pogo-inducing, boot-stomping live performances soon had them pegged as rising stars in the post-punk revival, along with Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, and the Futureheads.
Essential Listening: Employment CD £7 LP £28
LCD Soundsystem debuted with “Losing My Edge,” a single that became one of the most talked-about indie releases of 2002. A self-effacing spoof of the outrageous pissing contests that often occur whenever music geeks cross paths (“I was at the first Can show in Cologne,” etc.) laid over a puttering electronic beat with the occasional bursts of discoid clatter, the track was also one of the first released on the DFA label. Several magazines and newspapers would eventually declare James Murphy, the man behind both LCD Soundsystem and DFA, to be one of the coolest people on the planet. Murphy released the full-length LCD Soundsystem in January 2005. At the time of its release, the DFA label was more popular than ever; The second proper LCD Soundsystem album, Sound of Silver, was released in March 2007. It contained Murphy’s most affecting songwriting and peaked within the Top 50 of the Billboard 200. Led by the single “Drunk Girls” and an accompanying Spike Jonze-directed video, LCD Soundsystem’s third studio album, This Is Happening, was released three years later. Riding high on the acclaim the album garnered, the band toured the world with fellow dance-pop group Hot Chip for much of 2010. Right around this time, Murphy announced that he was retiring the LCD Soundsystem name. The band played a farewell show at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York on April 2, 2011 and released the set the following year as The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden. In late 2015, rumors began circulating that LCD was re-forming, Soon after, they announced plans to headline Coachella, play a series of live dates, and release a new album in 2016. While the effort did not materialize that year, LCD did deliver a pair of songs in May 2017, “Call the Police” and “American Dream.” They proved to be the first singles from American Dream, the band’s fourth proper album. Featuring Murphy playing most of the instruments, with help from live bandmembers multi-instrumentalist Al Doyle, vocalist Nancy Whang, keyboardist Gavin Russom, bassist Tyler Pope, and drummer Pat Mahoney, the record was released in September of 2017 by the band’s new label home Columbia. It was their first album to reach the top of the Billboard Charts and the song “Tonite” won a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
Essential Listening: LCD Soundsystem CD £7 LP £32 Sound of Silver CD £7
The British press seems eager to add the Libertines to the canon of great British bands as soon as possible. Not just because their music carries on the traditions of previous greats from the Beatles to the Clash, or because of their involvement with already-legendary figures like Alan McGee, Mick Jones and Geoff Travis, or because their peers in the British music scene just weren’t as interesting to cover, but because the band’s future always teeters between dazzling and dangerously uncertain. At the very least, they’re guaranteed a spot in the history books as one of the most volatile bands ever to come out of the U.K. McGee, who has dealt with such notoriously difficult personalities as Oasis’ pugnacious Gallagher brothers and My Bloody Valentine’s hyperperfectionistic genius Kevin Shields, has called the Libertines “the most extreme band I’ve worked with.” Co-frontman Pete Doherty’s stints in and out of rehab, jail, and the band itself lent the Libertines an unpredictability that was both brilliant and frustrating. After releasing two albums that gave them godlike status amongst their generation Up The Bracket and the eponymously named The Libertines, the groups volatility eventually got the best of them, splitting up in 2004, it would take another 6 years before Doherty and Barat would share the stage again, reforming to play live at 2010s Reading & Leeds Festival.
Essential Listening: Up The Bracket CD £7 LP £25 The Libertines CD £7 LP £25
One of the more enduring bands from the post-punk revival of the early to mid-2000s, Maxïmo Park craft smart, sharply catchy guitar pop songs. Like their friends and neighbors Field Music and the Futureheads, they took inspiration from legends like the Jam, XTC, Wire, and the Smiths. Unlike many of their peers, frontman Paul Smith’s heartfelt vocals and lyrics added an emotional pull to their music, especially on their 2005 Mercury Prize-nominated debut, A Certain Trigger, and 2007’s Our Earthly Pleasures. Maxïmo Park were also unafraid to share their overtly political viewpoint, even when it was unfashionable, as on 2012’s The National Health and 2017’s Too Much Information. However, they never lost touch with the deep feelings in their music, and 2021’s Nature Always Wins proved they were just as endearingly thoughtful and earnest as they were when they started.
Essential Listening: Certain Trigger CD £7
While indie rock stalwarts the National emerged from Brooklyn in the early 2000s amidst a garage rock revival that included bands like the Strokes, the Walkmen, and, in the U.K., the Libertines, they distinguished themselves by drawing from a wider set of influences. Merging elements of alternative country-rock, Americana, and chamber pop as well as post-punk into their moody, crafted indie rock, their earliest albums won a dedicated fan base and critical praise before they made an impact on the charts with their fourth LP, 2007’s Boxer. It marked a gradual shift away from some of their more rustic influences, as they embraced a more expansive, orchestral sound behind the literate lyrics and brooding vocals of frontman Matt Berninger. An album-oriented band that had yet to land on the Hot 100, the National catapulted into the Top Three of the album charts in multiple countries with 2010’s High Violet. They remained a Top Three act throughout the decade, which included the still more expansive, Grammy-winning Sleep Well Beast from 2017 and 2019’s chart-topping I Am Easy to Find. Following a collaboration with Taylor Swift on her 2020 track “Coney Island,” the National contributed to the soundtrack for the 2021 film Cyrano.
Essential Listening: Boxer CD £7 LP £23 Alligator CD £7 LP £25
One of indie rock’s most critically acclaimed acts, Spoon have earned a reputation for being consistently inventive and inventively consistent. They arrived as brash post-punkers in the post-grunge lull of the mid-’90s, but in the decade that followed, Spoon truly came into their own. On 2001’s Girls Can Tell and 2002’s Kill the Moonlight, they stripped rock down to its most essential elements, then used the empty space that remained to play with shifting rhythms, taut guitars and literate lyrics in ways that sounded innovative and timeless. This heady blend of precision punk and serpentine classic rock (the band has drawn comparisons to everyone from the Pixies and Sonic Youth to Elvis Costello and Tom Petty) eventually earned Spoon commercial success as well as glowing reviews: Their 2007 album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, was a top 10 hit in the U.S.. Over the years, the band continued to evolve while remaining true to their minimalist roots.They opened up their sound on 2017’s dance-tinged Hot Thoughts, then went back to basics with the raw rock of 2022’s Lucifer on the Sofa, both of which exemplified how Spoon found new ways of doing what they’ve always done.
Essential Listening: Girls Can Tell CD £10
By bringing style, fun, and catchy songwriting back to rock music, the Strokes became one of the most influential bands of the early 21st century. Their direct, hooky sound — equally inspired by classic tunesmiths like Buddy Holly and the brash attitude of fellow New Yorkers the Velvet Underground and Ramones — set trends even as it looked back on rock history. With their acclaimed 2001 debut, Is This It, the Strokes reinvigorated a rock scene that had spent years focused on post-grunge and nu-metal. Along with the White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they helped shape the sound and look of alternative rock in the 2000s, with Kings of Leon and the Killers and the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, and Arctic Monkeys reflecting their impact in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively. As the decade unfolded, the Strokes embellished on their back-to-basics style, adding new wave and synth pop elements to 2003’s Room on Fire and 2006’s ambitious First Impressions of Earth, a trend they continued with later releases like 2013’s Comedown Machine. Though they spent much of the 2010s working on individual projects, they returned with some of their most passionate-sounding music on 2020’s The New Abnormal.
Essential Listening: Is This It CD £7 LP £25 Room on Fire CD £7 LP £25 First Impressions of Earth CD £7 LP £25
From the wreckage of mid-’90s indie rock hype victims Jonathan Fire*Eater, the Walkmen rose at the turn of the century as major players in the New York City circle of post-punk/new wave-inspired bands (also including Interpol, the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and others). Setting the Walkmen apart from the outset was a heavy reliance on piano and organ, and a preference for atmospherics over garage antics, courtesy of their self-built Marcata Studios. The band already had two acclaimed albums and a number of EPs under their belt when 2004’s Bows + Arrows broke big and made them music-magazine cover boys. Subsequent work cemented their appeal and commercial success, cresting with Top 40 appearances for 2010’s Lisbon and 2012’s Heaven. The Walkmen then went on hiatus, with three of the four beginning solo careers, including their prolific frontman Hamilton Leithauser.
Essential Listening: Lisbon CD £10
With their unlikely but fascinating mix of arty concepts and raw sounds, the White Stripes were among the leaders of the early-2000s garage rock revival and helped define the sound of 21st century rock as the decade progressed. Jack and Meg White’s clever use of limitations — from their lineup to their instrumentation to their red, white, and black color scheme — maximized their creativity, allowing them to bring a surprising number of facets to their seemingly back-to-basics approach. Meg’s straight-ahead, minimalist drumming complemented Jack’s freewheeling guitars and vocals perfectly, and their music touched on not only on obvious forebears such as the Gories and the Stooges, but also Son House and Blind Willie McTell’s mythic blues, Led Zeppelin’s riffs, the Gun Club’s unhinged punk, and the timeless storytelling of country and folk legends such as Loretta Lynn and Bob Dylan. The breadth of their sound and their fondness for mystique — they said the Dutch design movement De Stijl was as an important an influence on them as any musician, and claimed to be siblings even though they were actually a married couple until 2000 — gave the White Stripes more staying power than many of their contemporaries. As they grew from a pair of Detroit kids on 1999’s The White Stripes to international rock stars responsible for a trio of Grammy-winning albums (2003’s Elephant, 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, and 2007’s Icky Thump), they always remained true to their ideals.
Essential Listening: Elephant CD £10 Get Behind Me Satan CD £10 Icky Thump CD £10 LP £25
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Discovered in the wake of the Strokes’ popularity and the subsequent garage rock revival, New York’s art punk trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are comprised of singer Karen O, guitarist Nicolas Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrote a slew of songs at their first rehearsal and soon wound up supporting the Strokes and the White Stripes, earning a significant buzz for their arty yet sexy take on garage punk. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs moved to Interscope for their debut album, 2003’s Fever to Tell. Boasting a cleaner sound and more eclectic songwriting than their EPs, the album continued their critical acclaim and also won them a fair amount of commercial success: the gorgeous ballad “Maps” became a hit in 2004 and pushed Fever to Tell to gold status that year. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs reconvened in the studio that year to record their second album with Clean as producer; jokingly, Clean said that the album was about O’s cat and would be called Coco Beware, but the album’s real title, Show Your Bones, was revealed soon after. Released in spring 2006, the album was the band’s most mature, polished work yet, and reached number 11 on the album charts. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs spent the rest of the year touring in support of the album, and returned in summer 2007 with the Is Is EP, a collection of newly recorded versions of songs written in between the band’s two albums. It’s Blitz!, which took the band’s sound in a more streamlined, electronic direction, arrived in spring 2009. For 2013’s harder-edged Mosquito, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs reunited with producers David Sitek and Nick Launay, and collaborated with James Murphy and Kool Keith.
Essential Listening: It’s Blitz CD £6 LP £23