Let’s take a moment to look back on “indie sleaze.” The late aughts were dominated by infectious guitar bands who had the ability to fill dance floors, debauchery-filled nights out documented through the flashes of disposable cameras, and Alex Turner’s love letter to Alexa Chung that, in the eyes of the youth, instantly elevated him to the poetic mastery of Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke.
The fashion of indie sleaze was just as prominent as the music that soundtracked it, with both worlds bleeding over into each other. The quintessential trends of that era — almost exclusively limited to American Apparel, skinny jeans, and skater skirts — may have dipped out following the peak of indie sleaze in 2010, but its influence continues to live on.
Indie sleaze has made its tentative resurgence over the last year or so, thanks to a younger generation who have identified that period of late 2000s partying anarchy and adopted some of its most iconic trends. Indie sleaze’s comeback has also coincided with new albums from bands that defined that era such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, along with the re-emergence of the likes of LCD Soundsystem and The Strokes on the live circuit.
We’ve rounded up 10 albums from the bands that we feel best represent that sordid time. Get your nostalgia on below.
Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time
Having come up in the late-2000s music scene by uploading MySpace demos, no less, Sky Ferreira’s brand of infectious, rock-influenced edgy-pop felt like the defining sound of indie sleaze. Her signature blonde hair and dark eyeliner-heavy makeup look was a staple at every after-party of note, and her fantastic debut album, Night Time, My Time, despite her image as the all-encompassing “cool girl,” was still raw with vulnerability and heartache, and full of the specific insecurities, anxieties and fears that are simply rites of passage for every teenage girl. Take cuts “You’re Not the One” and “24 Hours”: “And I’m thinking about how much I need you/ But you really want somebody else,” goes the former. Sky Ferreira was and is impossibly cool, but she was also just like one of us.
The Strokes, Room On Fire
The Strokes have inspired countless other guitar bands who wanted to sound exactly like them, because they were just so dang cool, for better or for worse. Their debut Is This It — catchy, spunky, gritty, back-to-basics rock music — was an instant-classic, so they made almost the exact same album two years later because why the hell not. Room On Fire took everything The Strokes were good at and doubled it, their influence hitting the United Kingdom particularly strongly and causing a fresh wave of young guitar bands to try and emulate their sound down to a T (again, for better or for worse). Legend has it that a teenaged Alex Turner and co. travelled down from Sheffield to London to watch The Strokes play a headline show at Alexandra Palace, where they bumped into The Libertines’ Pete Doherty in the crowd.
Oh, and don’t forget Sofia Coppola’s “What Ever Happened?” needle drop in 2006’s Marie Antoinette as a means to convey the titular character’s debilitating melancholy.