Prelude to Murder
Shorbanoor’s body of work is indie in its genre, industrial position, and ethos. It is soft and moody guitar rock, produced outside of the ambit of large labels. But the basic definition of indie fails to capture the nature of this music. I find it more helpful to think of Shorbanoor’s music as art pop rather than indie pop. This helps identify that his music is concerned less with the conventions of pop music and more with the references and aesthetic value of fine art.
His new song lays waste to this theory. Because it is wonderfully bright pop. Shorbanoor smiles in the video and acts kind of silly. The lyrics maintain the humorous charm of his previous work but add a touch of familiar pop flavor. Most of all however, it is inspiringly brave.1
Artists, especially serious ones, often make transitions that make their work more legible, understandable, and happy. Many times these changes are met with negativity because the exercise of making art accessible and positive is considered to reduce its authenticity and value. It appears that this type of feedback loop gained strength in the 2010s, a difficult decade of Pakistani pop where artists struggled to access audiences directly and genuinely went through serious existential crises. This seems especially true for Lahore’s indie scene. A new generation of musicians, greater access to audiences through social media, and time to get over industrial baggage has opened the door again for artists to reach out to audiences with a new ethos. Some of these attempts won’t work, because crossing over genres is not easy. Which is why it’s such a laudable move. Shorbanoor doesn’t have that problem though, this song is killer.
It’s still Shorbanoor, so apparent literary references persist. And the YouTube caption is 🤌.