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Black Sky Thinking

Los Campesinos! First Against Wall In TWAT! (The War Against Twee)
Steven Wells , August 18th, 2008 11:24

The world stands, yet again, on the brink of the nuclear war, while simultaneously frying, blowing, flooding and burning to a premature end. How do twee band respond? By jumping up and down, shouting 'Yay!' and drinking Cherryade. Swells is unimpressed.

"Dad, it’s some old English cunt!" screams my six-year-old daughter Tracey Trotsky Spinoza Jones.

"It’s three in the fucking morning," I grunt, grabbing the phone.

"It’s only six months since the 14-legged abortion that is Los Campesinos! released their first abomination," roars Quietus editor John ‘Duran’ Doran on the line from London, England, "and now they’re already about to release their second album."

He weeps as he speaks, and within seconds I am weeping too.

The world teeters on the brink of World War fucking three and Los Campesinos! — an exercise in reverse engineered paedophilia — are relaunching their Frankenstein's monster twee revival showband with a new fucking album and a tour entitled Wet Yr Bed — presumably a fair warning to the UK's groupies that this is what’ll happen if you take one of Los Campesinos! home. I’m sorry, I misread that, the tour’s called Shred Yr Face. Which appears to a glassing reference. Which makes no fucking sense at all.

Last month Jilted John reformed himself. This made me hard. It made me yearn for the return of Plastic Bertrand on the condition that he only perform ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’

It made me nostalglitoggle the Television Personalities ‘Part Time Punks’ and The Members ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ on my punk pathetique packed i-pod. But what it didn’t make me do is yearn for a twee revival. Are you fucking listening, Pitchfork’s Nitsuh Abebe?

Nitsuh used to be a hero of mine. He once defined twee as "Undramatic kids (who) saw an opportunity to make music as themselves, for themselves: regular middle-class white kids in plain clothes, not especially sexy, not exactly musically brilliant, and more often sad than angry." Which I thought was as damning an explanation for the existence of these boring, unsexy and stupendously dull Paddington Bear’s tiny furry cocksucking cunts as I’d ever read.

Indeed I thought it an even better put down than John Doran’s splenetic "how does sucking your thumb and listening to the Field Mice combat sexism anyway? Fucking blinkered appeasers. Who the fuck sings songs about running out of cherryade at a party anyway? They're all in their late 20s and the world is about to end. Kill them. Kill them all."

Or Tracy Trotsky Spinoza Jones’ comment that "twee is a way to make dull, uninteresting and suburban people feel good about themselves."

Or indeed my own description of the loathsome Belle and Sebastian and their irritating paedo-pop ilk as "self-loving, knock-kneed, passive aggressive, dressed-up-in-kiddy-clothes, mock-pop-creepiness peddling, smug, underachieving, real-pop-hating no-talents celebrating their own inadequacy with music so white it’s translucent."

Imagine my shock when the aforementioned Mr. Nitsuh Abebe got in touch to say that—while he stood by his original quote about how twee had basically skullfucked punk’s original DIY aesthetic to death with its rank cowardice—this was, in his opinion, a good thing.

This provoked a flurry of correspondence which ended only when I ascertained that Mr. Abebe is American and that therefore listening to his comments about twee — as erudite as they were — was a little like getting advice on the correct way to play cricket from a Martian.

Not cricket

Not only does Mr. Abebe think dressing up like a simpering ninny from some 1930’s jolly hockeysticks, barely-disguised kiddy-fiddler wank fantasy is a good thing, he also — in an article that is considered by many to be the definitive piece of writing on the twee phenomenon on Pitchfork — traced the gangrenous genre back to The Television Personalities.

Fuck off. The Television Personalities (and their alter egos The O Levels) were not twee. The clue is in the fact that they didn’t suck. They didn’t simper. They didn’t peddle a drained-of-all-ideology, passive-aggressive, un-analysed and hideously ill-defined porridge of cringe-worthy pederasty, noxious nostalgia, oblique poetastery, tuneless fax-pop, bourgeois arrogance (posturing as DIY separatism) and right-wing anti-proletarian middle-class smugness (posturing as anti-macho anti-sexism).

Was twee ever genuinely radical? Was it ever anything more than a cowardly retreat from subversion, empowerment and experimentation into a nauseatingly reactionary paedo-aesthetic? Surprisingly, yes it was—for about 5 minutes.

In Olympia, Washington State in 1984, a young man called Calvin Johnson decides to rip the piss out of the brutally macho, one-dimensional, throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater straight white male travesty that is American hardcore punk with a superlimp pissrippery called Beat Happening — the first American twee band.

Beat Happening make also-on-the-bill Henry Rollin’s superbly muscled head hurt. He stares at this abomination like a confused dog. He screams abuse. He reaches up and grabs Johnson’s cock—at which point Johnson deigns to notice him, looks down at Rollins and says: "Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?" (It’s in the book Our Band Could Be Your Life.)

But, as Joe Strummer never wrote: "Those who fuck with nuns will later dress up like seven year olds in a way that is creepy without ever being fun." Twee is a frequently reoccurring herpes virus under the foreskin of the popcock and Los Campesinos! are the weeping sore. Unless measures are taken to stop them I predict a full-blown twee pandemic by the end of the decade.

So the only question is — what are YOU going to do in The War Against Twee (TWAT)? I myself will be breaking into the homes of all eight members of Los Campesinos while they are away on tour and urinating in their empty beds. And placing razor blades in the orifices of their suspiciously life-sized teddy bears.

It’s the only language they understand.