Tired of Sex: Has Indie Rock Gone Flaccid?


Katie Roiphe caused a stir with her recent New York Times essay “The Naked and the Conflicted,” which argues that a large chunk of today’s heterosexual male authors tend to not only shy away from sex, but also express disgust and even boredom with it. But we’re not here to rehash the ample controversy she incited. Instead, we’ve decided to see whether her thesis applies to young, male artists in another arena: indie rock. We examined some of last year’s buzziest hits to determine whether their creators find sex as passé as their literary counterparts. Will hipster rockers prove the exception by summoning the libido of Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes? Also: Where the ladies at, and are their sexual antics stealing the striptease?

Animal Collective, “My Girls” – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)

Animal Collective are so over sex that their human forms actually melt down and disintegrate in the last 45 seconds of the video for “My Girls.” Body parts! Who needs ’em? And make no mistake: “My Girls” does not address a bevy of doe-eyed indie-rock princesses, but instead the wife and daughter for whom our fine, upstanding citizens want a “proper house” of “four walls and adobe slats.” We’re also guessing that this humble abode won’t contain a rotating bed or mirrors on the ceilings, as they “don’t care for fancy things.” Devotion to simplicity, celibacy, and love of music? Sounds like the Shaker community is about to get some new recruits.

Neon Indian, “Deadbeat Summer” – Psychic Chasms (Lefse)

Deadbeats get laid all the time, but even they need to spend some time on looking effortlessly bedraggled and sexy. In Neon Indian’s single “Deadbeat Summer,” our hero Alan Palomo wakes up in a haze: “Come in blind from the east / In the middle of a Sunday street / Seeing thoughts in repeat / But I’d rather get something to eat / Feelin’ senseless and beat / And I wonder if through chance we will meet.” Huh. He doesn’t seem too interested. But wait: “You’re the one that I miss / From my soul, you’re the one I still wanna kiss.” Honey, we’d have a better chance of believing in your passion if the girl took priority over your eggs and bacon. Take a bath, dude.

Grizzly Bear, “Two Weeks” – Veckatimest (Warp)

Grizzly Bear frontman Ed Droste is definitely an exception to the rule of the sexually disillusioned straight male — but only because he is decidedly not straight. Still, he and his band of heterosexual brothers wrote a top single in 2009 that might as well have been titled “Stop Trying to Have Sex with Me.” This narrative of a troubled relationship echoes the weary ennui of a guy who is tired of reassuring his partner that he’ll stick around, telling him to “Make it easy / Take your time.” We have to wonder if it isn’t Droste’s partner who’s the real victim of boredom here.

Dirty Projectors, “Stillness Is the Move” – Bitte Orca (Domino)

The Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is the Move” may boast a music video full of llamas, wolves, and the diva-voiced Amber Coffman dressed like the Virgin Mary, but this flawless spawn of hip-hop and orchestral indie pop is guaranteed to get someone laid. Want to know what the proverbial “twinkle in her eyes” would sound like as song lyrics? Observe: “After all that we’ve been through / I know that I will always love you / From now until forever, baby / I can’t imagine anything better.” Now, get yourself a llama and ride off into the sunset with your boo.

Girls, “Lust for Life” (NSFW version) – Album (True Panther Sounds)

Did you know you can use a certain male appendage as a microphone? Girls do. (The band, that is. Not the gender.) Beautiful boys and ladies give the two-finger salute to sweltering summer weather and mix up the sweat in the video for “Lust for Life.” But don’t celebrate the triumph of the hipster hetero yet: All of the action here is strictly homo. Between the orgiastic energy of this straight-up pornographic video and the song’s homage to the basic needs of wine and pizza, we imagine this track would make Iggy Pop very proud.

Matt & Kim, “Lessons Learned” – Grand (Fader Label)

Matt & Kim personify sexual liberation in the video for their ode to breaking the mold, “Lessons Learned.” Stripping naked while walking through Times Square, their gleeful sprint from agitated cops is raw, joyful sexuality in its purest form, urging us to “Close your eyes and use your mouth / And tell me about your song.” Flower children aren’t dead; it’s just that these days, they prefer knee-high tube socks to love beads.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero” – It’s Blitz! (Interscope)

Well, this is embarrassing (for dudes). Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is the proud songstress of “Zero,” one of the smarmiest, sexiest singles of the year, and she wants you to “Try and hit the spot / Get to know it in the dark.” Hint, hint. Practicing what she preaches, the aptly-named O “gets her leather on” and sashays through slick city streets, her piercing yowl climaxing with a plea: “Can you climb, climb, climb higher?”

Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp” (NSFW) – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)

When Yeasayer made the decision to break away from the indie-rock-dude band fold and get their sexy on, they must have hung a sign on the studio wall reading, “Go big or go home.” Their video for their single “Ambling Alp” oozes with sexuality… literally. As in, naked people peel said ooze from each other and writhe in an orgasmic pile as band members receive sensual face massages and box each other in S&M-like hoods. If this clip doesn’t leave you with a hankering to bang on a giant drum on a mountain as a legion of nude crazies rolls down a sandy desert hill, we don’t want to know you.

The Flaming Lips, “Watching the Planets” – Embryonic (Warner Brothers)

Click here to watch the video (NSFW). Trust us, it’s worth it.

Some things should be left up to the pros. Case in point: Watch Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips make up for what’s beginning to look a lot like a lack of lusty males in 2009, unleashing the very, uh, unrestrained video for “Watching the Planets.” Coyne approaches a giant, yonic structure while inside what appears to be a man-sized hamster ball, as the massive vajayjay births a horde of virile young things. Then there are the naked bicycle riders: Nice rear view, guys! Eventually, Coyne is extricated, stripped naked, and forced, head-first, into the aforementioned mothership. Most. Sexually. Symbolic. Video. Ever. Did we mention Karen O guests on this track?

So, what’s the verdict? The most popular indie-rock singles of 2009, as realized by dude bands, certainly seem to exhibit a squick factor when it comes to getting it on: Their authors are either too fucked up to fuck or have already transcended such base, bodily needs. That’s not to say 2009 wasn’t still a pretty steamy year for indie rock, but the roles of sexual enthusiasts were largely fulfilled by gay men and women of all sexual orientations, as well as bands with a healthier boy-girl mix. Lucky for you, straight-dude bands, you’ll always have Wayne Coyne as your wild card, guaranteed to bring the heat. As for you, randy readers, did we miss anyone who set fire to your loins in 2009?