In recent years, vinyls have made an unlikely comeback. From starting out as a hipster’s key accessory they are now flooding the mainstream market. While it may be perceived that Spotify, Tidal and iTunes dominate a digital market with their flawless, highly edited sounds, their unlikely competitor is a throwback to our parent’s youth – records. The renewed popularity in this trendy media is made all the more baffling by recent falling album sales.
With this retromania comes a demand for not only band reunions and old school sounds but also record players. However, the days of eager searching for used vinyl’s are long gone and music-lovers are turning towards modern versions. This nostalgia is also making waves in music production as modern artists produce vinyls to fight their way onto the new UK vinyl LP album chart. (1.29 million vinyl albums were bought in the UK last year, the highest number since 1995). But it isn’t just contemporary artists such as Bastille taking over the charts but rather it is the ‘Golden Oldies’ that seem to be dominating the top 40s: from Fleetwood Mac to Pink Floyd to Amy Winehouse. It could be said that this throwback phase could have been prompted by a lack of good music currently being produced, however, the vinyls that seem to be most popular appear to have a higher quality of musicality enriched with the melodies of live instruments, rather than pre-recorded snippets of sound. While this could justify the rising popularity of vinyls, it is more likely that it is just this growing obsession with all things vintage.
Even in St Andrews, a town cursed with being off trend manages to provide for those old school music lovers. Oxfam seems to always have a supply of vinyls and recently there was an extensive vinyl sale. Every now and again, the Union also plays host to a LP and CD fair. Considering our severely lacking shopping scene, it speaks volumes that this niche product, has found it’s way into our Bubble, showing the universal regard for LPs now. It is not only our beloved corner of Fife but every town seems to have its token record store whether its second hand or new independent record labels. If you take a wonder down the lanes in Brighton, outside every store are buckets filled with records and walls plastered in vinyls and this aesthetic isn’t a rarity in UK towns.
While furniture stores have had a new demand for record boxes, the popular clothing brand Urban Outfitters has started stocking one of the most popular modern style record players, the Crosley. The 1960’s player epitomises the wave of respect for mid-century design whilst also incorporating modern technology, high quality speakers and an aux plug to facilitate the player as a normal speaker.
Whilst this style of vinyl player may be intended to furnish a room, the new Technics SL-1200 deck sits at the premium end of the market after being pushed back into production, but this time with top of the range features suitable for MCs or DJs. With a highly polished finish and unbeatable technology, unlike the Crosley, this is far more suitable for those in the know rather than a faux hipster. One can easily spend £4000 on a new player, however even if you choose to go for a £35 number, the ability to appreciate an album as a whole, exempt from the distraction of shuffle, is still achieved.
The record experience is completely unique, each listen giving an authentic live vibe that is untranslatable to digital media. I like to think that people just have a growing respect for music and maybe it is now seen as more of an art than a form of light entertainment or background noise. In a world of madness maybe music is now gaining appreciation and is a welcome breathing space where multi-tasking is over done.
Whether it is the current trend for throwbacks or a growing appreciation for music, musicians and the industry as a whole, certainly aren’t suffering for it, so let’s just sit back, relax and enjoy the music we may have been foolish in forgetting.