If you’ve been semi-chronically online recently, you’d know that many content creators have been proclaiming the return of Indie Sleaze on TikTok and across social media platforms. All the signs have been right under our noses: from celebrities participating in the teenage dirtbag trend to mid-2000s indie/alternative bands releasing new music (we’re looking at you Arctic Monkeys). Whether you want to really dive into this trend or have no idea what the hell we’re talking about, we’re breaking down the Indie Sleaze trend and sharing a few nostalgic songs we’re actually excited to listen to again:
What the hell is Indie Sleaze anyway?
In the age of perpetual nostalgia, it seems that the trend cycle is already glamorizing a period of time that’s barely a decade old: that sweet spot of about 2002-2012. That’s right – today’s teens and tweens are not only embracing but glorifying the peak of the Tumblr days from fashion to music.
What was formerly known as “hipster” fashion has been reclaimed by a new generation as Indie Sleaze. Think grimy hair, smudgy eyeliner, metallic leggings, and side bangs. We’re really hoping that people resist the urge to get mustache tattoos again, but there’s no telling what’ll happen in the wild world of trend cycles.
Indie Sleaze in Music
The Wombats – Let’s Dance to Joy Division
There’s a trending audio of a remix of their song Greek Tragedy on TikTok right now, but we all know that this song is the real classic. The first of many British Indie Sleaze bands on this list – the Brits really had a firm grip on Indie Sleaze culture and media, possibly because of the influence punk movement there. Either way, if you need to work out some negative energy and want to thrash around in your room like you did as a teenager, this Indie Sleaze song is the perfect soundtrack.
Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
There was a time when it seemed like this song was in every indie movie soundtrack, and for good reason. This song hits all the benchmarks of the Indie Sleaze music sound – fun, clever lyrics and a grimy sense of teen angst make this Indie Sleaze track have lasting appeal.
Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent
If you were chronically on Tumblr, maybe this selection made you roll your eyes a little but it’s still fun, okay?! We could argue that the popular release of AM in 2013 (and the 2013 Vampire Weekend album, which we’ll get to later) heralded the death of the hipster phase in music as a mass appeal was antithetical to the hipster system of value. Considering the classic Indie Sleaze band’s latest release, we can be sure that the Arctic Monkeys will ride out this wave of sudden nostalgia for the recent past.
Sky Ferreira – Everything is Embarrassing
Sky Ferreira was THAT GIRL of the original Indie Sleaze era. Watching the music video for this track you will learn everything you need to know about women’s style from that era, and this track from the Ghost EP still delivers.
The Kooks – Naive
Snappy guitar riffs, catchy hooks, and that quintessentially British inflection – this song is primed to make a comeback in the era of Indie Sleaze and we’re not mad about it.
The Drums – Let’s go Surfing
This catchy and upbeat surf rock inspired track is destined to make its resurgence during this moment of Indie Sleaze. We can hear that iconic whistle soundbite and guitar riff becoming a trending TikTok sound in the distance….
MGMT – Kids
This song is already trending on Instagram Reels and TikTok and definitely fits into the Indie Sleaze fold. Maybe one of the biggest and most influential hits of the hipster era, we’re already prepared to get sick of this song for another time around! And the music video is creepier than we remembered, too. Electric Feel from the reluctant indie pop duo also deserves an honorable mention.
The Vaccines – If You Wanna
Yet another influential British Indie Sleaze band, this catchy guitar-heavy track still hits just as hard as it did just over a decade ago. Another track from the same album Post Break-Up Sex deserves an honorable mention as well.
Vampire Weekend – A Punk
Ah, the beloved prep school cousin of the indie rock scene of the 2010’s…. With Vampire Weekend remaining fairly relevant throughout the 2010s and beyond, we’re not sure if we can call the projected relevance during the Indie Sleaze trend a true comeback, but we can almost guarantee that some of this classic indie band’s hits from earlier albums will be making its way to your feeds soon.
There’s no telling how long this trend is going to last, and we’re surely not going to be breaking out our old ripped skinny jeans and fake glasses just yet, but it is fun to make a little return to the music of our younger years.