Phil Collins: Indie Hipsters' Non-Guilty Pleasure
Peter Gabriel may be courting indie rock with his reciprocal covers albums Scratch My Back and the forthcoming I'll Scratch Yours - featuring the likes of Bon Iver and the Arcade Fire - but don't discount indiedom's growing love for his old Genesis cohort Phil Collins.
The recent rise of chillwave has coincided with a broader, nostalgia-assisted reexamination of Collins and other synth-heavy hitmakers of the 1980s. No longer the butt of quite so many Tarzan jokes, Collins is again being hailed as the visionary behind "Sussido," "In The Air Tonight," "Against All Odds," and other time-capsule exploits. Don't believe me? Here are a handful of examples of Collins' pervasive influence.
1. NightWaves, "In The Air Tonight"
The mother of all Collins jams, this build-and-release classic has been heavily sampled in hip-hop and covered elsewhere. Last year the Brooklyn band Takka Takka tackled it for the Guilt By Association compilation series, and St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens did the same live at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. But the touchstone version in recent memory was done by L.A. music/blog duo NightWaves for the Buffetlibre Rewind series of free-download covers. Behold its squishy glory.
2. The Ruby Suns, "Two Humans"
Ruby Suns leader Ryan McPhun has cited Collins as an influence on his revolving-cast band's third album, Fight Softly. Although McPhun dabbles in world-music rhythms and electronic psych, the album track "Two Humans" has a familiar yen for drowsy synth melodies and a glacial drift.
3. The Postal Service, "Against All Odds"
Another cover. Neither the 2004 movie Wicked Park nor its indie-tastic soundtrack made much of a dent, but the Postal Service's twitchy take on "Against All Odds" was an early barometer of changing attitudes towards Collins. After a minute and a half, it goes from twitchy claustrophobia to a sudden blossom and swoon. Phil would be proud.
4. Empire Of The Sun, "Half Mast"
Empire Of The Sun's self-titled debut plays like an homage to gauzy '80s soft-pop, and while it's tempting to choose the splashy single "Walking On A Dream," the specter of Collins is more apparent on "Half Mast." Dig that buried, chintzy melody.