Genre Profile: New Rave

Dan Curhan

What genre of music inspires glowstick parties, has “anarchic, trashy energy,” and isn’t Rave? New Rave, or “Nu Rave” music was popularized in the United Kingdom by New Musical Express, a British music magazine. The term was coined for a flyer advertising the debut performance of Klaxons, a UK group that was looking to separate itself from plain old “Rave.” New Rave combines elements of Electronica, New Wave, Rock, Indie, Techno, House, and Hip Hop. What it essentially boils down to is a high-energy, eclectic blend of danceable, semi-Electronica that will immediately bring to mind a brightly-colored place full of dancing glowsticks. Actually, it’s not really that trippy, but still! Glowsticks!

Some of the more prominent artists classified as New Rave are, obviously, Klaxons; Hadouken!; Late of the Pier; Does it Offend You, Yeah?; Trash Fashion; The Teenagers; and Shitdisco. The musical spread of these artists is remarkable, yet they all fall under the “New Rave” umbrella. Each one captures the energy and spirit that defines the genre. If you like dancing and jumping, or Indie-Electronic music (and of course glowsticks), definitely check out New Rave. Here is brief guide to some bands that are prominent on the New Rave scene.

Klaxons have songs bordering on Brit-Pop or Pop-Punk; some of the less popular stuff is a little grungier, though. For Type 1, check out “Golden Skans”; for Type 2, listen to “As Above So Below.” Hadouken! ranges from really white danceparty noisy-Grunge-Rap to more Synth-laden Pop. “That Boy That Girl” (of the first style) has some really entertaining lyrics, and it’s just a fun song in general, and “Get Smashed Gate Crash” combines quick verses with an Alt-Pop style chorus.

Trash Fashion’s big hit, “It’s a Rave, Dave” is a catchy Rave song about a rave. The lyrics describe raving fairly well: “Just have a laugh and stand around Bob your head round up and down Stomp your feet upon the ground To the kit drum as it sounds.Throw your hands up in the air And maybe give a little cheer.Go to the bar and get a beer Go speak to that dude over there.” Does it Offend You, Yeah?’s songs are full of dirty, noisy, dance beats with repetitive lyrics (“Let’s Make Out”) and contrastingly mellow verses (“We Are Rockstars”).

It seems as though New Rave was more of a short-lived mediainduced fad than a serious attempt at genre development. The fate of the genre took a sharp downhill turn early last year after Klaxons publicly separated themselves from the movement, calling it a “joke that’s got out of hand.” In addition to the shallowness of its origins, many people argue that New Rave is focused more on aesthetics than the loosely-defined musical guidelines that, for the most part, coincide with with the existing genre of Dance-Punk. This feeling does have some basis in reality; the genre is more closely associated with neon lights and brightly colored clothing (and glowsticks!) than one musical style or sound in particular. Still it’s hard to argue with music that gets a whole crowd jumping up and down, holding – wait for it – glowsticks! (You saw that one coming, didn’t you?)