Around the middle of the 2000s, there were a few years when it seemed like a ton of indie rock kids rediscovered the pleasures of vintage Guided by Voices and Exile in Guyville all at once. As a result of this (or because all of these kids were broke), lo-fi briefly became a viable trend again. After all of the initial lo-fi excitement subsided, most of these bands were promptly forgotten, but a few left us with records that still stand up to their initial hype. Wavves’ second album Wavvves remains a delightfully cracked collection of surf rock tunes. The Thermals’ first few records, and especially its first album More Parts Per Million, are packed with songs that are still as catchy as they were a decade ago. Times New Viking and No Age ripped apart pop and punk with the kind of noise that only the cheapest recording technology can provide. And a few psychedelic garage punks, including Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, moved past their lo-fi beginnings to create some of the most exciting catalogs in 21st century rock.
While they were never quite the best of their class of lo-fi rockers, the Vivian Girls possessed an easygoing charm that, paired with their impressive songcraft, pushed them through one of the most consistently satisfying careers of any of their contemporaries. They broke up last week, putting a fitting cap on a final phase of their run that saw the band’s members being pulled in different directions by new ambitions.