These top 10 indie pop bands are a welcome alternative to the mind-numbingly bland and insipid pop music making its way onto mainstream radio. Music doesn’t have to be dumb to be pop, and these bands prove it.
- Matt & Kim. This boyfriend-and-girlfriend duo have become one of the best indie pop bands around through sheer enthusiasm. Anyone who has seen them play live can’t help but be impressed by how much fun they’re having. That fun translates well to their recorded music, too, and has made for some of the catchiest tunes of the last few years.
- Los Campesinos! Another band that has won a loyal fan base through a combination of enthusiasm and songwriting chops, Los Campesinos! are about as good a brit pop band as you’re likely to find these days.
- Best Coast. Who would have thought that lo-fi surf rock could qualify as pop in this day and age? It’s certainly not the auto-tuned dance music that has been force-fed to the public, but this indie pop trio’s songs about boyfriends and pet cats are ridiculously catchy.
- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. OK, so the band name is a little silly. It’s a decent fit, though, for the hearts-on-their-sleeves shoe gazy pop that this band puts out. With an 1980's retro sound that calls to mind the better efforts of bands like My Bloody Valentine, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart would be shoe-ins for soundtracking a remake of a John Hughes movie.
- Arcade Fire. It’s debatable how much pop is in Arcade Fire’s music, but they are arguably the most influential indie band of their generation. Signed to the venerable Merge Records, Arcade Fire managed to far outsell many major label acts with the release of their third album "The Suburbs".
- Belle & Sebastian. One of the defining bands of the modern indie pop movement, Belle & Sebastian made mopey Scottish folk rock fun. Often compared to The Smiths, they are proof positive that music can be simultaneously upbeat and dour.
- The New Pornographers. The ultimate Canadian pop music supergroup, The New Pornographers made household names of members like Neko Case and Dan Bejar. Well, at least in the sort of household that is stocked with Don DeLillo novels and an extensive vinyl collection.
- Broken Social Scene. But wait! There is another indie pop super group to be found in Canada! Broken Social Scene plays it a bit more artsy than The New Pornographers but not necessarily any less catchy. One day perhaps the two bands will battle to the death for the indie pop crown, but until then we are more than happy to listen to both of them.
- Cansei de Ser Sexy. You haven’t danced until you’ve heard “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above.” Like many indie pop acts, you may have heard CSS’s music featured in an iPod ad. Don’t worry, though, that seems to be the one endorsement deal that won’t ruin a band’s indie cred.
- The Postal Service. Will The Postal Service ever make a second record? Fans of indie pop bands have been waiting since 2003 for one, but it seems less and less likely with each year. Still, we can keep dreaming.
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