Subscriber Playlist, May 2023: Twee AF
Subscribers can enjoy the spring weather with some sunnily subversive indie-pop.
As was the case with “shoegaze,” the term “twee” was originally intended as an insult, a term that poked fun at the genre’s emphasis on child-like innocence and sweetness. This emphasis was borne out in simple song structures and arrangements, unpretentious production, and ultra-sensitive lyrics that often focused on sentimental depictions of love and romance. Such qualities were in marked contrast to the hyper-sexualized machismo that’s typically associated with rock n’ roll.
Despite its gentle nature, that contrast made twee surprisingly subversive. For all of their fey lyrics and folksy melodies, many twee artists were inspired by the punk movement, and especially the DIY ethos when it came to recording and promoting their music. Notable labels, like Sarah Records — which released music from such luminaries as Heavenly, The Field Mice, and Talulah Gosh — rejected Thatcherism and consumerism in favor of socialist ideals. Some twee artists espoused left-wing politics in their songs and/or sang out against sexism and homophobia. The mere fact that women figured so prominently in twee was another reason why it stood athwart the historically masculine rock n’ roll scene.