And whereas metal has become more knotted and complex, so much of what used to be called "indie rock" has become contemplative. The patience required of metal fans in recent years to make it through tedious works by Sunn O))) and Earth has now beset the not-quite-rock world. Plodding gorgeousness permeated new works by indie luminariesBEACH HOUSE,PORTISHEAD, and the BUG, to name a few. Meanwhile, the runaway success this year of newcomers FLEET FOXES — with their winsomely anachronistic CSNY-meets-Appalachia — was a resounding victory for the twin indie virtues of preciousness and perceived authenticity. But I was most impressed with the back-to-nature lushness ofMERCURY REV's Snowflake Midnight, wherein the band used programmed beats and a myopic obsession with the natural world to shed their previously annoying Flaming Lips–isms and discover an X'd-out bliss. It's like catharsis on tape.

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