Capital Cities – Safe and Sound

In a Tidal Wave of Mystery
Year :
Owl City / MGMT / Of Monsters and Men

“You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes.” – Butthole Surfers, 1996

* * *

I live in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. For most of the rest of the world, this qualifies me as a Hipster—the dead-end of western civilization. Never mind that my day-to-day activities more closely remember those of a 45 year old man. My glasses and zip code make it so.

I distinctly remember feeling disconnected from the hipster scene almost as soon as I moved to the neighborhood in 2006. Walking down Bedford Avenue, it often felt like I was the only one not not wearing a costume. And yet, whenever I’d leave the city and tell someone where I was from, I’d get the inevitable questions about being a hipster and my supposed life of slackerly leisure. Strange thing, really. Despite the loathsome status of the hipster, pretty much anyone who was not a member of the fixed-gear bicycle class seemed pretty fascinated by the idea.

And sooner or later, that fascination begat products. It’s like a force of nature. Eventually, the exclusive domain of the tragically hip always seeps out into broader popular culture. Skinny jeans could be had in Target. Zooey Deschanel became a network TV celebrity.

And of course, there is the music. There were inklings that the center of the hipster universe could not hold as early as 2004 when The Killers released Hot Fuss, an album that trimmed the rough edges of the Brooklyn music scene and commodified the sound with an almost brutal efficiency. By 2009, Owl City hit the top 100 with “Fireflies,” a track that so blatantly mined the sound of The Postal Service that it was easy to mistake one for the other. In other words, the music now belonged to Middle America.

Owl City – Fireflies

In popular culture, the distance between 2009 and 2013 might as well be a lifetime. So much so that on my most recent trip home, my dear mother unleased what should have been the ultimate death knell to hipster culture, asking “The hipster thing is pretty much over, right?”

Yes and no. This summer, “Safe and Sound” by upstarts Captial Cities saw a fair amount of commercial success. Like Owl City’s “Fireflies” it reaches back approximately 3 years from it’s release date to polish up a now tired sound for mass consumption.

Specifically, the mathematics of “Safe and Sound” work something like this:


topped with with a dash of EDM.

This is not a song I that I much care to listen to, but it’s fascinating. It neatly wraps up everything someone who is not a hipster would assume that hipsters are supposed to be about. A brief viewing of the video confirms it entirely (“Beards, yeah!”). It’s the hipster through the eyes of everyone else.

In fact, I think I hate this song. Maybe I am a hipster. Damn you, Capital Cities.

On the other hand, maybe I should be thankful. Let this be the song that shaves a thousand beards. I’m ready for it to be over.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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