Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Top 50 Indie(ish) Albums of the Noughties

The 1990s were a staggering era for indie music, there’s no disputing that. And the ‘JuicyPips Top 50 Indie Albums of the Nineties’ round-up a few weeks ago seemed to caress the nostalgia lobes of quite a few of you – I was expecting a backlash of ‘I can’t believe you missed this band’ and ‘You should have chosen this album instead of that one’ and so forth, but was instead greeted cheerfully by lots of ‘Ah, that was the soundtrack of my youth’. Warm, fuzzy feelings all around.
So, I’ve skipped to the next decade so that we can start all over again. If you’re my age, this’ll be the soundtrack to your twenties-ish. If not, er, here are fifty albums that you may or may not remember from the recent past. But, as with the last list, every one here is a belter, and every one is a record collection essential. If you’ve got them, dig ’em out and listen. If you haven’t, you’ve got some shopping to do. (And yes, like last time, this isn’t strictly an exclusively indie list – it’s more about the vibe, yeah? Yeah.)

Here we go, then – THE JUICYPIPS TOP 50 INDIE(ISH) ALBUMS OF THE NOUGHTIES!

The Strokes – Is This It?
This album was a total game-changer when it was released in 2001. Suddenly every up-and-coming indie band wanted to copy The Strokes’ melodic garage rock sound; Is This It? changed the music landscape of the early noughties exponentially. Alone, Together, Last Nite, Soma, New York City Cops, there’s not a bad track in the bunch.

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
…and while everyone in 2001 wanted to sound like The Strokes, everyone in 2006 wanted to sound like Arctic Monkeys. This album was another game-changer – a pivotal moment in music history, from a band that (unlike The Strokes) have been consistently excellent ever since. But it’s this astonishing debut – the quickest-selling debut in British chart history, no less – that shows them at their most raw, honest, and youthfully exuberant. Essential listening.

Vex Red – Start With A Strong And Persistent Desire
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Vex Red – they released just one album and two singles in the early noughties, then disbanded.
But if you’re unfamiliar, you’re missing out. Track down this superb album, which fuses indie and hard rock with electronica, and enjoy such nuggets of perfection as Can’t Smile, The Closest, Itch and Bully Me. Wonderful stuff. 

The Cooper Temple Clause – See This Through And Leave
A startlingly fresh canvas of post-punk/new wave space rock here – deliberately weird recipes of familiar rock templates and squiggly electronic noises coalesce to form slices of wonder like Film-maker, Panzer Attack, Been Training Dogs and Let’s Kill Music. One of the greatest albums of 2002.

Ikara Colt – Modern Apprentice
Oh, I love Ikara Colt. Their first album, 2002’s Chat and Business, was a fantastic counterpoint to mainstream indie, but it was 2004’s Modern Apprentice, their second and final album, that really showcased their songwriting genius. It’s the sound of a bunch of musically talented art students who happened to find themselves in a studio with a cupboardful of punk records and another cupboardful of gin. In the best possible way.

Graham Coxon – Happiness In Magazines
The nineties belonged to Blur, but the noughties were guitarist Graham Coxon’s domain, branching out into a solo stream that was at once darkly melancholic and cheerfully bright-eyed. 2004’s Happiness in Magazines is the best of a solid bunch, demonstrating the jangly indie songwriting he lent to Blur along with his love of lo-fi garage punk. Try Freakin’ Out, People Of The Earth, Don’t Be A Stranger and Spectacular.

The Animalhouse – Ready To Receive
Another obscure gem here, The Animalhouse was what singer/guitarist Mark Gardener did after indie shoegazing stalwarts Ride disbanded.
Ready To Receive is an excellent LP, combining Britrock with sixties psychedelia and, again, a bit of electronica – but it was big-ish in Japan and not really anywhere else. Tracks like Small, Ready To Receive, Animal and Essence are essential post-nineties listening.

Mower – People Are Cruel
Another cracking album that no-one’s really heard. When People Are Cruel was released in 2003, the sound was described as ‘The Kinks meets Mudhoney’, which is pretty accurate – throw in some thrashing guitars with amps turned up to 11 in a small basement, and you’re pretty much there. The Morning After deserved to be a massive single. More people should know this album.

Bromheads Jacket – Dits From The Commuter Belt
If you like Arctic Monkeys’ perceptive analysis of youth and life, but would like to hear it refracted through some Hampshire vocals, this is the album for you. Mix in a bit more punk and some heavier riffs and you’re onto a winner.
Try Going Round To Have A Word, Poppy Bird, “My Prime Time Kid” and Rosey Lee – thoroughly enjoyable stuff.

Archie Bronson Outfit – Derdang Derdang
This is a band who formed in Bath, then moved to London to find that the streets were not in fact paved with gold after all. Their second album, 2006’s Derdang Derdang, is bursting at the seams with catchy hooks, chiming riffs and melancholic lamentation. A great late-night post-pub stomper, with a few tender moments for the comedown.

Foxboro Hot Tubs – Stop Drop And Roll!!!
Green Day have an interesting history of releasing albums under names other than Green Day, allowing them to explore different genres of rock without alienating their core fanbase. In 2003, for example, they released a terrific new wave album under the name The Network.
But it’s this 2008 album as Foxboro Hot Tubs that I’ve chosen for this list – it’s a collection of retro-styled pop songs, delivered in an energetic manner on lo-fi eight-tracks. They recorded it to let off steam while working on the sprawlingly cinematic Green Day album 21st Century Breakdown, and it’s just a rollercoaster of good times. 

The Electric Soft Parade – Holes In The Wall
Psych pop is a tricky indie sub-genre, and ESP are the masters of it. Holes In The Wall, their complex and beguiling debut, was nominated for the 2002 Mercury Music Prize, and rightly so with such treats as Empty At The End, Silent To The Dark and Why Do You Try So Hard To Hate Me? on board.

Kasabian – Kasabian
Forget what you know today about Kasabian – international bestsellers, commercial industry award winners, media darlings, blah blah – and cast your mind back to 2004 when we’d never heard of them. This first album came out of nowhere, the killer opening riff of Club Foot reeling you into an album of incredible depth and allure. Every track a winner.

Panic! At The Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
Panic! At The Disco are from Las Vegas, and it shows - this glitzy romp is never less than thoroughly exciting. It was recorded shortly after the band graduated from high school, and this knowledge makes the complexity and maturity of the album all the more surprising. It’s got a really interesting stylistic split, with the first seven tracks focusing on synths and drum machines, and the post-intermission songs being more grounded in traditional instruments; accordions, organs and so on. Genuinely fascinating stuff.

Athlete – Vehicles And Animals
The first Athlete album sounds like what would happen if you spent a week listening to The Flaming Lips, then took a guitar and a synth to a hilltop London park on a glorious sunny day.
The band had a great ear for radio-friendly indie-pop – Westside, You Got The Style, El Salvador, the world is better for having these things in it.

The Libertines – The Libertines
As pivotal as the aforementioned debuts from The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines’ first record Up The Bracket changed a lot of things for a lot of people, spearheading the British garage rock revival of the early noughties. But I’ve chosen their eponymous second album for this list, simply because you can’t live without Can’t Stand Me Now, Narcissist, The Ha Ha Wall, The Man Who Would Be King… hell, all of it, actually.

Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
This was just massive in 2004, and the Take Me Out video was all over the music channels for months. (Back in the days when people still watched music channels on TV…)
The NME said at the time that Franz Ferdinand were the latest in a clear line of art school rock bands that started with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, passed through The Who, Roxy Music, the Sex Pistols, Blur, and burst forth through this impressive debut from the Glaswegian four-piece. It’s a corker of an album. The soundtrack of a million noughties house parties and indie discos.

Kings of Leon – Youth And Young Manhood
You may know Kings of Leon as being a bunch of pretty faces with massive album sales – their sex might actually be on fire – but they’re no manufactured record label construct. When this debut emerged in 2003, they were a bunch of heavily-bearded Pentecostal misfits, channelling the heritage of blues rock of the American south and throwing in a few punk chords for good measure. It just so happened that people dug the vibe and bought lots of their records. This is arguably their best.

The Datsuns – The Datsuns
Hard rock from New Zealand. Everyone needs a bit of that in their lives, particularly when one of their biggest early singles was called Motherfucker From Hell.
John Peel championed them as ‘the future of rock’ – to a degree, he was right. Check out this first album – consistently excellent, I reckon – and, if you like it, there are five further LPs to try.

The Von Bondies – Lack Of Communication
The Von Bondies are largely celebrated for their later explorations in garage rock, but their first album, Lack of Communication, was pure punk blues. It was produced by Jack White (of The White Stripes, of course), and is utterly, utterly sublime. Cass & Henry, Nite Train, Rock ‘N’ Roll Nurse, you need these things in your life.

Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV
‘The biggest thing to come out of Staines since Bobby Davro.’ Is probably not a line Hard-Fi’s publicists ever chose to run with.
Hard-Fi have an uncanny ability to capture the highs and lows of suburban life and translate it into catchy indie tunes that bear repeated high-volume listening; Hard To Beat, Cash Machine, Living For The Weekend, it all sparkles. And of course, Move On Now is gloriously bleak.

Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions
‘Mon the Biff!’ That’s what you have to shout when you see them live. Top tip, there.
Biffy’s earlier work was deliberately inaccessible, drawing influence from Metallica, Nirvana, Pixies and Weezer (try 2004’s The Vertigo of Bliss or 2007’s Puzzle if you fancy a rewarding challenge), but 2009’s Only Revolutions saw them shift into more traditional songwriting, which makes it the most comfortable fit for this list. Just a beautiful album throughout.  

Coheed And Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume I
A complex one, this. Coheed And Cambria are a post-hardcore prog band who make incredibly intricate and complex albums – every one is a concept album telling a larger sci-fi story. This one is a good place for you to start; it was their first album on a major label (their previous two appearing on indie imprints) and is a little more accessible. Imagine if Led Zeppelin wrote the score for a Terry Pratchett novel. Or Deep Purple for Douglas Adams. It’s like that.

Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R
QOTSA are, quite simply, one of the greatest bands of all time. Their second album, Rated R, is probably my favourite (although I change my mind on this all the time). With such classics as The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret, Leg Of Lamb, Better Living Through Chemistry and Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, you need this one in your collection. Actually need it.

The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
The world would be a darker place without Jack and Meg. This, their magnum opus, delivers big-hitters like Fell In Love With A Girl, Hotel Yorba, Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground and We’re Going To Be Friends with playful yet razor-edged lo-fi panache. Gorgeous.

The Dead Weather – Horehound
…and this is one of Jack White’s side projects. Horehound is a dark and mysterious album (which, incidentally, lends itself very well to soundtracking a tense game of poker) which bristles with aggression, malevolence and surprising tenderness.

Elevator Suite – Barefoot & Shitfaced
OK, so this was actually released in 1999, but I’m fitting it in here because the biggest single, Back Around, charted in late 2000. It’s a forgotten gem, this album, mixing rock with jazz and a bit of house to create something unique and spectacular. Well worth a slot on the shelf of any discerning collector.

Dark Star – Twenty Twenty Sound
Another one from 1999, actually – but this also counts, because they were so ahead of their time in terms of stylistic experimentation. (Also, shut up, it’s my list.) It’s packed full of dramatic soundscapes, thumping basslines and delicate guitar melodies – there’s nothing quite like it.

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
MCR distanced themselves from the template of the emo genre in 2006 by releasing this concept album. It’s a rock opera about ‘The Patient’, a cancer victim, telling of their death, experiences with the afterlife, and reflections on their existence. The album is heavily influenced by ’70s glam rock, punk and classic rock, and there isn’t a bad track on it. There’s a reason why it’s sold three million copies.

Reverend and the Makers – The State Of Things
If you judge it solely on single He Said He Loved Me, it’d be easy to dismiss this as a novelty. But oh, you’d be so wrong to do so. Frontman John McClure is a headstrong and focused musical talent, and this meisterwerk crystallises his despair of modern culture in such bubbles of sun-kissed genius as What The Milkman Saw, The State Of Things, Heavyweight Champion Of The World, The Machine and 18-30. It’s utterly, utterly excellent throughout.

Klaxons – Myths Of The Near Future
While it’s probably true that if you want to be a committed Klaxons fan, you need to live in Shoreditch and grow a trendy beard over your vintage Mickey Mouse t-shirt, Myths Of The Near Future is still something marvellous that’s accessible to all. Golden Skans and It’s Not Over Yet are bejewelled treats, and there’s much else to enjoy here too.

Eagles of Death Metal – Peace, Love, Death Metal
Eagles of Death Metal are not a death metal band. Founding member Josh Homme (also of Queens of the Stone Age, of course) describes their sound as ‘bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals’. This debut, rippling with all-star cameos, is a relentless joy – try I Only Want You and Whorehoppin’ (Shit Goddamn) for starters, it’ll suck you in deep.

The Coral – The Coral
The music press went nuts for The Coral in 2002, and you can see why - this debut is astounding. Skeleton Key, Calendars & Clocks, Simon Diamond, Waiting For The Heartaches – all delightful. They then followed up with another great album the next year, then another the year after, then another the year after… commitment to the craft, that. Good on ’em.

Blink 182 – Blink 182
OK, Blink 182 aren’t an indie band. But this album fits perfectly into the list, demonstrating as it does a seismic shift in the band’s ethos, from the cheeky, scatological pop-punk of their first four albums to a more mature, considered and technical style of songcraft. This intelligent album, released in 2003, is an absolute marvel – even if you hate everything you know about Blink, buy this and immerse yourself. Trust me.
(…and then you can try their 2011 album Neighborhoods, which is just as splendid.)

The Distillers – Coral Fang
Sometimes, you need to be angry and disappointed about stuff. And when you are, The Distillers are there to soundtrack it for you. Drain The Blood is an outstanding opener to this visceral punk album, and the bile never lets up for a second. Very, very strong stuff.

Bright Eyes – Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
Lover I Don’t Have To Love is one of the greatest songs ever written. That’s just a fact. The rest of this superb album pivots around it like a delicate firework. That may sound like a mixed metaphor, but listen to Lifted, you’ll see what I mean.

Auf der Maur – Auf der Maur
Melissa auf der Maur used to play bass with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, and this is her solo debut from 2004. (It’s packed with celebrity collaborators though!) Every tune is huge, the production is beefy and robust, and it’s an album that everybody should own. It’s gobsmacking that it wasn’t more popular, it has all the makings of an all-time great. 

My Vitriol – Finelines
Also fitting neatly into the ‘it’s gobsmacking that it wasn’t more popular, it has all the makings of an all-time great’ area is 2001’s Finelines.
You’ll probably recognise Always: Your Way, that was quite a big single. Now, imagine a whole album made of that sort of brilliance. Compelling, no?

The Fratellis – Costello Music
OK, they’re a bit cheesy, but sometimes you need a bit of cheese. And while Chelsea Dagger is good for drunken pub-based da-da-daa-da-da-daa-da-da-da-da-da-da-daa-ing, you’ll find depth and substance in Creepin’ Up The Backstairs, Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night and Got Ma Nuts From A Hippie. Whimsical treats abound.

The Hiss – Panic Movement
The Hiss are a dirty little secret from Florida, by way of Atlanta, Georgia. They sound like a cross between The Stooges and late-sixties-era Rolling Stones, and the big-riffing mischief of Back On The Radio and Riverbed are guaranteed to warm the cockles.

Astrid - Play Dead
Fancy a bit of light-hearted indie-pop? Play Dead is just the ticket. You can’t fail to be enraptured by the ineffable cheeriness of Horror Movies, and everything else here is similarly lovely too.

I Am Kloot – Gods And Monsters
I Am Kloot have dabbled with all sorts of touchpoints within the indie genre. This, their third album, was recorded with microphones attached to every conceivable surface and object in the studio to capture all sorts of unique vibrations and resonances, making for a peculiarly crisp and crystal-clear sound. Not only are the songs tip-top (count yourself lucky that you live in a world where Strange Without You exists), but it’s like they’re being played in your living room, just for you.

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Hell of a supergroup, this – John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal), and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). Throw them into the desert with a whole load of tequila and watch the badass riffs and colossal drums pour forth. Astounding.

The Rakes – Capture/Release
The Rakes’ first album traded heavily on the notion that modern life is a bit disappointing, so you might as well just get on with it and make the best of it. Get up, go to work, go the pub, try to cop off with someone, go home, sleep, repeat. And a jolly fine set of tunes it is too. Open Book is particularly ace.

At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command
ATD-I made complex, confusing albums. Which is good. This one, from 2000, fuses post-hardcore shouty aggression with melodic cutaways and bucketfuls of surrealism. Not for everyone, admittedly, but if you like it, you’ll really like it. Particular highlights are Enfilade, One-Armed Scissor and Arcarsenal.

Milburn – Well Well Well
Milburn drew criticism in period for being exactly like Arctic Monkeys. Which they were, but that’s not really a bad thing per se, and Well Well Well is brimming with killer tunes. Enough time has passed that if you like one, you’re allowed to like the other. So go for it.

Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American
The mainstream face of the emo genre, but don’t hold that against them. This album, their fourth (which you may find titled eponymously, the name ‘Bleed American’ being deleted after 9/11), contains The Middle, which you’ll know, but you also need to check out Salt Sweat Sugar (also originally titled Bleed American) and Get It Faster.

The Subways – Young For Eternity
It might be too much of a chronological stretch to squeeze The Subways’ peerless 2011 album Money & Celebrity into the list, so let’s have their 2005 debut instead.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen, Oh Yeah, Holiday – it’s the sound of kids having fun with guitars. Proper feelgood punk rock.

Terris – Learning To Let Go
Their manager was Richard Parfitt from 60ft Dolls, which could only be a harbinger of quality. As it turned out, it was, kinda – their one and only album was a belter; the NME described them as a ‘21st century Joy Division’. Mainstream critics didn’t agree, however, and panned the album; nobody bought it, they were dropped from the label, and they broke up.
All a shame, but those of us who actually bought it can enjoy a rare treat – Beneath The Belt, Petrol Hours and Fabricated Lunacy are sunkissed indie gold, while album closer Deliverance shifts alarmingly from indie to screaming grunge meltdown in impressive style.

The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious
With a singer going by the name of Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, you can’t really go wrong, can you?
You’ll know the track Hate To Say I Told You So as it was everywhere in the early noughties, but this album is well worth digging out to further your enjoyment. Outsmarted, Supply and Demand, Die, All Right!, Main Offender, this is Swedish garage punk at its finest.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
Pretentious hipsters? Possibly. But the early Yeah Yeah Yeahs stuff was solid – you really, really need to own their self-titled 5-track debut EP (Miles Away in particular is outstanding), and then move onto this, their first album proper. This is what new-millennium New York sounded like.

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
It’s amazing how Bloc Party’s sound managed to be simultaneously tight and punchy, and expansive and airy. Have a crack at this album – in particular Like Eating Glass, This Modern Love, Positive Tension and Helicopter. An LP to transcend the ages, this.

Hot Hot Heat – Make Up The Breakdown
Canadian dance-punk doesn’t get better than early Hot Hot Heat. Bandages is a devastatingly splendid song, and everything else here is pretty much on a par too. Feelgood, brain-out thrills.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
BRMC have released seven albums to date. I suggest you start here and work through – beginning with such corkers as Love Burns, As Sure As The Sun, Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll and Red Eyes And Tears will give your education a solid foundation.

The Music – The Music
In the Google era, this is as stupid a name for a band as A or The The. But that’s hindsight for you.
This 2002 album is an absolute must-have – Take The Long Road And Walk It and Getaway are the big singles you might know, while The People, The Truth Is No Words, Disco and Float will make your heart smile.


OK, that was actually 55 albums in the end. But there’s not a single iota of chaff in this robustly wheaty bunch. These are all things that you need to listen to. So what are you waiting for…?












Election Funk

WTF Secrets

WTF Secrets is an illustrated round-up of confessions from a Reddit thread entitled 'What's the secret that could literally ruin your life if it came out?'. Occasionally amusing, but usually either utterly shocking or devastatingly heartbreaking, it makes for very compelling reading. Click here and see.

(...and here's the Reddit source thread.)


ISS GoPro spacewalk

Ever wanted to go for a wander in space? Here you are, go nuts.

Inside Abbey Road

Google have created a virtual tour of Abbey Road studios - and it's outstanding. Click here to see.


Hotel room cookery

Mmm, yum.

Friday, 10 April 2015

10/04/15 - Is Frozen the greatest movie of all time?

There’s quite a lot of compelling evidence to suggest that Frozen might well be the greatest movie ever made.
It’s not a new thing, of course - it was released in 2013 (and became the second most-pirated movie of 2014, after The Wolf of Wall Street), although I didn’t get round to watching it until just after Christmas 2014. Why watch it at all? Because I have a daughter, who was two years old at the time, and my uncle bought her some Frozen stuff for Christmas – a book, a lunchbox, a talking Olaf the Snowman toy, the franchise has merchandised pretty much every available avenue - so we thought we’d better buy the movie and watch it, just so that these new things made sense.

Now, if you have a daughter of around this age, you’ll know the borderline-narcotic effects that this movie has on young minds. She was captivated. She’d never had the stamina to watch an entire film before, but she swallowed Frozen whole. And we’ve had to watch it every day since. It’s like some sort of political, ideological indoctrination – we’ve bought into it wholesale, largely through having little choice in the matter. It makes perfect sense to us. We can’t help but love it. We listen to the soundtrack CD in the car. We collect the Panini stickers. It’s enveloped us. And here are some reasons why [caution – contains many spoilers]:

It’s not a typical Disney princess movie
Most princess-oriented Disney movies make me want to punch myself. But this one isn’t all about how it’s important to be pretty and popular but you really need a man to take charge so that you can waft about being vacuous.
The main protagonist here, Princess Anna, may be wide-eyed, slim and pretty, but she’s also fallible. She’s awkward, clumsy, neurotic, but also headstrong and independent. A pretty good role model – not ideal, but certainly not destructive. And – MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT – it’s very important that the quest for ‘an act of true love’ throughout the film turns out to be a cuddle with her sister, rather than kissing a handsome prince as they all assume.

It deals with gritty, dark shit
Within the first ten minutes of the film, the girls’ parents are lost at sea. But not in a they-walked-out-of-the-door-and-never-came-back way that you’d expect from a Disney movie; you see their ship being tossed about on terrifyingly large waves before the narrative cuts straight to their funeral. It’s pretty brutal.
Also, Prince Hans – who we believe is a nice guy at first, but turns out to be a total fucker – gets within a hair’s breadth of actually beheading the Queen. ACTUALLY BEHEADING HER. With a big fuck-off sword. Frightening.

That bit where Anna freezes solid…
…and her final breath escapes her icy husk in a solitary emotive puff. Woah.

It ignores Disney gender stereotypes
The story features countless tropes and themes that, as part of a movie in general, would pass unnoticed as normal behaviour - but as part of a Disney movie, are actually quite radical and impressive. The people of Arandelle unquestioningly accept the idea of having a Queen, once Elsa comes of age; there’s no suggestion that she should find a nice prince and then let him rule the kingdom. She inherits her parents’ country on her own terms.
Kristoff is a great example of what a male lead should be in a Disney movie too. He isn’t overbearing and patronising, but neither is he a doormat or a klutz. He works in tandem with Anna instead of trying to control her; he calls her out on her foibles, but also encourages her headstrong adventurousness. 
And Wandering Oaken? One of the best characters in the film – he’s friendly and polite, but doesn’t take any shit. And when we see a quick cutaway to his family in the sauna, we learn that he has a boyfriend with whom he’s presumably adopted a number of children. Right on, Disney.

Elsa heals her own personality disorder
Having been born with uncontrollable cryokinetic powers, Elsa is encouraged by her parents to believe that she’s dangerous and needs to hide herself away from the world; ‘conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show’. Her character was actually originally intended to be the villain of the story (which explains the lyric ‘let the storm rage on’ in Let It Go – how evil and heartless is that…?) until the producers realised how commercial that song could be and had the plot rewritten to make her a symbol of female empowerment.
Anyway, when her secret shame becomes public, she runs away – understandable, given that she’s spent years in isolation believing that she’s a freakish deviant. But rather than wallowing in self-disgust, she relishes the freedom – ‘Yes, I’m alone, but I’m alone and free’. (Go on, see if you can find another Disney character who’s been trapped in isolation and doesn’t turn out to be a villain.) She finds beauty in her flaws. It takes a while, but she learns to share them. She becomes happy. This is good.

The snow is great
The production team drafted in a professor from the California Institute of Technology to lecture them in detail about the nature of snow. They then developed digital snowflake generation software to ensure that every snowflake in the film was unique, that the animated snow on the ground acted like real snow should when walked through, thrown or blown around. Snow is a tricky thing, as it’s neither liquid nor solid in its various forms, so they had to be very mathematical in their approach. It works brilliantly, all the snow looks real.

‘You can’t marry a man you just met’
Disney has always traded on the romantic ideals of fairy stories. The notion of ‘true love’s kiss’, employed as heavily in Frozen as it is in countless other Disney movies, is subverted by some actual logic, which is refreshing. When Anna agrees to marry Hans within a few hours of meeting him, the viewer sighs in dismay. But everybody who she tells about it responds with utter astonishment. Just like in real life. ‘You can’t marry a man you just met!’ they splutter, quite understandably. This, for Disney, is even more of a revelation than having a gay character or an intelligent princess. It contradicts everything that the saccharine franchise has ever stood for. And that’s a very good thing.

OK, so Frozen clearly isn’t actually the greatest movie ever made. It’s just not a bad movie. If you watch any film with endless, relentless repetition, you’ll quickly find yourself flung into either adoration or hatred – this is a natural human coping mechanism to stop you going insane. This acid test, if nothing else, proves that Frozen wouldn’t work as a Guantanamo torture medium. Incarcerated terrorists presumably have to watch Bend It Like Beckham or Showgirls instead.