Is 2014 Tumblr *really* coming back, or are we just really in need of nostalgia?
It’s been a couple of months since TikTok and myself proclaimed that the 2014 Tumblr resurgence is upon us. Turtle necks and pleated tennis skirts are back in style, and any chunky footwear situation has become the default preference. The cherry on top of all this is, undoubtedly, the music. All in one month, The 1975, Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and Arctic Monkeys released new albums. And those who hung out on the blogging site, including mysself, nearly lost their minds listening to all four albums in one weekend.
But before I get the better of myself and jump headfirst into the pool filled with humans lovingly stuck in the past, allow me to clear something up. We all love saying that this quadfecta marks our time to shine. We proclaim that the return of the icons of our teens feels suitable for us now that we’re finally adults with spending power. But honestly, The 1975, Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and Arctic Monkeys kept their careers alive and kicking well even after the so-called heydays of Tumblr. So what’s there to bring back that isn’t the ~look~, anyway?
This phenomenon is just us enjoying how the stars uncannily aligned, letting them drop new albums simultaneously. After all, when did we think of ever having these acts on our playlist rotations since 2014? But newsflash: our favorite acts have grown with us, too. Just take a listen to these brand new releases:
The results are in from Friday’s New Music Showdown:
Carly Rae Jepsen def. Taylor Swift for Best Female Pop Album
The 1975 def. The Arctic Monkeys for Best British Scumbag Rock Band
Tegan & Sara unopposed winners for best Tegan & Sara album
— roku city planner (@AdamdotH) October 24, 2022
Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and the magic of solitude
We’ve always known Carly Rae Jepsen as a sword-wielding, optimistic lovebug, so it’s refreshing to see her explore the realm of isolation with The Loneliest Time. The singer wraps cynicism with her glittering harmonies and addictive 80s pop instrumentals. But she also stops disguising the pain and opens up through slower and pared-back ballads: Western Wind, Bends and Go Find Yourself or Whatever, effectively show her expertise in pop music. Closing the album with The Loneliest Time feels like Jepsen bargaining, another show of the extremes loneliness can do.
On the other hand, Taylor Swift talks about what keeps us up at night, choosing to pull stories from her own library of experiences. Sounding like a marriage of her Lover and Reputation eras with a tinge of 1989, Taylor Swift explores dreamy bedroom pop as the canvas for her poem of things that keep us awake at night. Anti-Hero witnesses Swift inspecting her insecurities under a microscope, and Vigilante Shit is an anthem for getting even. At the highest peak is Karma, whose immense self-love manifests in wishing for that force to do its thing for those who wronged her.
Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift were—and still are TBH—talked about on the more optimistic sides of Tumblr. Those who saw love through rose-colored lenses and felt the devastation in their bones. But maturing has you focusing less on the blackness and whiteness of the world. Instead, it has us collecting vignettes of the same feeling and discovering the weirdest, saddest and happiest things it can make you do.
The 1975, Arctic Monkeys and the hunt for love
The 1975’s Being Funny In A Foreign Language has less of the experimental embellishments of their last two albums. For this record, the band sticks to what they’re good at: distorted synths, sensual brass instruments and string progressions that build up, accentuating their 80s-era guitar riffs. While Matty Healy’s lyrics might still be difficult to decode on the first listen, this album focuses on the cheesy and often cliché lamentation of love instead of their qualms about technology and romance. We hear this best in the euphoric Oh Caroline and the dreamy About You—a continuation of the angsty hit, Robbers. (If the characters from that song got their shit together, maybe we can do so, too.)
Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys have long shifted from AM’s slicked-hair, leather-clad and boot-wearing persona. But if you listen closely, they subtly touch upon those desert rock sensibilities in The Car coupled with commandeering synths. We hear these, especially in Sculpture Of Anything Goes and the riffs on Hello You. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino might have thrown many of their listeners off-kilter after the high of AM, but this new record finds an equal balance and a better expansion of Arctic Monkey’s sound and a masterful portfolio of Alex Turner’s lyricism.
Tumblr’s moodier, broodier subculture lay those who wore their emotions and sadness on their sleeves—sometimes a bit excessively, led by the bad decisions-laden AM and the hyperbolic turbulence of The 1975. But it’s been eight years—we’ve learned more and gotten better at feeling things all at once. Sometimes we ask for one thing and get more than we bargained for. If anything, adulthood may have exposed us to the complication of romance to the point that we’re allergic to it. But underneath it all, we will still seek some semblance of love.
Perhaps déjà vu is a better way to explain this phenomenon, instead of proclaiming it as the four horsemen of the Tumblrpocalypse. Think about it this way: these acts helped a generation of teenagers sort their big feelings out. Now that we’re all older but still none the wiser, we’ve got the same lineup of artists helping us sort through it all.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver