Snowden: Anti-Anti

Jade Tree

I'm gonna plead the Fifth and disavow wholesale comparisons between Snowden and any indie post-punk "face" bands from the last four or five years on the grounds that it may incriminate me as a lazy writer—and a knob. Otherwise, I'd probably mention Interpol, though only to specifically say that Jordan Jefferes (Snowden's singer/songwriter/guitarist) has a stronger grasp of 21st-century rock lyricizing than Paul Banks. (I'm referring to the lyrical effect that's like a view of the city from a train whipping past concrete pylons and bridge supports: the world flattened and chopped into snippets that flicker like frames of an old 8mm film, narrative replaced by an endless present.)

And if I ran with the Interpol thing I'd also say that Jefferes, with a voice like a sleepy Gary Numan and a refined sense of syllabic rhythm-play, is easier to listen to than Banks (and I dig Banks). In the title track's chorus, "We are anti-movements, we are anti-anti," the repetition tickles like a glitch from crossed wiring or speech aphasia.

But it's unfair—not to mention spurious—to compare Snowden's overall sound to that of other hooky guitar bands influenced by English groups from the early '80s. Interpol didn't "cause" Snowden; they merely preceded them. (And they didn't prep together, either.) This is where I wish more critics played in bands: The "weak theory" is to grant that Snowden may "sound like" certain other bands because they all ingested similar influences. The "strong theory" is that no bands sound alike.

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