Britpop may have died with the release of Oasis’ ridiculous Be Here Now, or the moment when a few University College London blokes performing as Starfish changed their name to Coldplay, but almost two decades later, there’s a surprising amount of life in that beautiful corpse. Blur’s classic The Great Escape (which helped hasten the end of the movement by pitting the single “Country House” against Oasis’ “Roll With It” in an obnoxious chart competition dubbed “The Battle of Britpop”) celebrates its 20th anniversary on Friday, though the band needn’t rest on its laurels, having released a widely praised reunion album just a few months ago. And they’re not the only Britpop veterans who’ve remained active — just this week, Suede announced a new album, Night Thoughts, which will come complete with a feature-length film.
With that in mind, this seemed like an appropriate moment to see how the past two decades have treated Britpop’s leading lights. Encouragingly, and in spite of several serious drug habits, it seems that most of these icons have fared quite well indeed.
Brett Anderson, Suede
From baby-faced pansexual crush object with really great hair to dignified 40-something with excellent cheekbones. Everyone should age so well.
Justine Frischmann, Elastica
Like her ex-flame Anderson, Frischmann seems to have moved on from her androgynous ’90s style, but does she look like a woman who’s less than a week away from turning 46? No, she does not.
Damon Albarn, Blur
You could have been forgiven, ca. 1995, for confusing Frischmann’s other ex with any number of boy-band bros. These days, his look is as sophisticated as his music.
Jarvis Cocker, Pulp
And if Damon didn’t convince you, maybe Jarvis will: men over 40, embrace the suit. Also, consider the gender-nonspecific possibilities of the sexy librarian archetype.
Richard Ashcroft, The Verve
Less distinctive without the exceedingly Britpop hairstyle, perhaps, but Ashcroft doesn’t seem to have aged a day since “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
Miki Berenyi, Lush
Then and now, Berenyi is all class. That red hair with the black roots, though.
James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers
Bradfield has cycled through more distinct stylistic eras than just about anyone besides Madonna. Back in the ’90s, he looked like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (yes, even in the sailor-suit era); these days, he seems altogether more avuncular, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Johnny Dean, Menswear
The haircut, the pinstripes, and the eyeliner have all remained constant over the years. What’s changed? Well, Dean has grown a beard… and also, by the looks of last year’s press photos, evolved into some sort of flesh-eating zombie.
Sonya Madan, Echobelly
Madan always looked impossibly young. Twenty years later, she looks… impossibly young for being 20 years older than she was before, and still wonderfully partial to a flattering short haircut.
Gaz Coombes, Supergrass
Coombes knew better than to leave his signature sideburns in the ’90s.
Paul Draper, Mansun
Like plenty of his Britpop peers, in Mansun’s heyday, Draper had a fondness for army jackets (if he deigned to wear a shirt at all) and a habit of looking like he hadn’t slept in days. As of 2014, he seems to have toned it down and (thank god) gotten some sleep.
Louise Wener, Sleeper
Observation: Britpop icons, in general, have not aged… but seriously, the women in particular seem to all have stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth.
Martin Rossiter, Gene
OK, so this is a bit spooky: Rossiter has certainly grown up in the years since Gene’s founding (he was just 23 then, after all), but his default pose remains a deeply inquisitive stare.
Lauren Laverne, Kenickie
Laverne was just 17 years old when Kenickie released their debut EP, Catsuit City, in 1995. Now, she’s still a few years shy of 40 and could pass for Toni Collette’s equally lovely younger sister.
Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis
And finally, the brothers who brought back the mop top both eventually surrendered it. If only they’d managed to leave their ongoing interfamilial feud in the ’90s as well…