Play the Horn

The Unicorns strike it rich with their unique brand of sloppy pop

It all adds up to a theatrical element that looks to fall in line with what people are searching for in modern-day indie rock. As emo becomes more and more mainstream (if it's not already 100 percent commercialized), people are less likely to respond to singers crooning about their daily dose of emotional roller-coastering. Instead listeners want to be wowed with fictions their everyday lives don't provide them with. Apparently songs about ghosts and mythical stallions are doing the trick. Bands like Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu and Liars, which prioritize the bizarre over catchiness, are popular with the same crowd that worshiped Ben Gibbard's and Conor Oberst's confessional pop just a few years back. Even the ultracorporate, major-label side of the spectrum is noticing that people's tastes are changing. The fact that Radiohead can sell volumes of records with nary a pop hook must attest to something. The fact that the new, Clear Channel-operated Los Angeles radio station Indie 103.1 melds independent bands with commercial playlists must attest to even more. With their sudden success, Ginger and Diamonds seem willing to push the envelope further. Onstage, when they're not kissing or encouraging tipsy roadies, they're taunting crowds and tweaking songs from the record. At the end of the day, the same pop idea can only be squeezed so much before losing its juice. Sophisticated or not, the Unicorns, with their devotion to horned horses, odd characters and frantic chord changes, may be one of the precursors to the next decade of indie pop.

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