Words by Joe Gilbertson
There’s something quite curious going on currently in the world of vinyl – the music format long favoured by young awkward men, later favoured by the same men, albeit older and just as awkward – it’s becoming cool. Previously record stores were safe havens from the outside world: dingy yet comforting with their racks and racks of LPs and nice but slightly unsettling owners. The perfect place to spend an afternoon searching for hours just to find the one record that you absolutely needed. Vinyl is a music format for the miserably poetic, those who make up for their lack of interesting life experiences with with rare Nick Drake compilations. It is most certainly not for the sort of cunts that come flocking in on Record Store Day.
OK, we get it. You like to tell yourself vinyl sounds better, but you’re largely basing that off something your dad once said. It’s not something you’ve deduced yourself using a Crosley Cruiser from Urban Outfitters. You like the vintage aesthetic of vinyl, and you also like the Instagram likes your #vintage #aesthetic gets you. Thank fuck you had Ziggy Stardust on LP to post the day Bowie died, a CD would have never been cool enough for such an opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy vinyl’s making a comeback. It would have been a lot less enjoyable to get into if it were still considered a dead format. I love being able to get new albums on LP. And a few years ago, I even enjoyed Record Store Day. But don’t pretend this is still about music and not fashion. Record Store Day has gone from being a celebration of small record stores to a chance for labels to rip-off middle class millennials with expensive limited editions to the detriment of the small vinyl labels and pressers that have kept the format going for years.
Sadly, pressing Foo Fighters on heavyweight vinyl doesn’t stop it sounding like Foo Fighters.
HMV is now stocked up with more copies of AM and overpriced Smiths represses than you can shake an iPhone at. Urban Outfitters are selling record players that make even the best records sound like Jeremy Hunt cumming against his will through a walkie-talkie. It’s not even a ‘hipster’ thing anymore: vinyl has gone horribly, superficially mainstream. What will I be doing on Record Store Day? Staying in, listening to records I already own, on a real stereo-set up. Yes, you’ll be having fun appreciating life at face value, but I’ll be miserable with much better sound quality, so who’s really winning?