Let me make this distinction real quick: Queer music vs Music that is Queer. Queer music is aggressively GAY, a fuck-you-fuck-me challenge against society about riding dick and worshiping women. It’s King Princess, it’s girl in red, it’s Lil Nas X. We all love an anthem, but sometimes you need tunes reminding you that queerness is lived simply in the everyday. Music that is Queer is all that: it’s subtlely subversive, almost utopianistic where queerness isn’t noteworthy—it’s just good fucking music.
This song is truly queer in every sense, in the best way. Dacus’ characteristic tongue-in-cheek lyrics spins a yarn relatable to many young queers: learning how to use your tongue by putting it in your same-sex bestie’s cheek. And liking it a lot. With garage band-like drums and heavy guitar, no chorus, and nostalgic lyrics, Kissing Lessons makes you feel like a teenager again: experimenting, fumbling, realising.
Pickle Darling proves with Happy Together that tweepop can be nonsensical without being nonsense. The Ōtautahi native takes the listener on an intimate ride into their stream of consciousness with an endearing nervousness that seems to disappear as the delicate instrumental builds. It’s a genuine sweetness that’s hard to find in queer music dominated by love and sex, made sweeter by the song’s casual queerness.
When I first heard this song the lyrics seemed a bit juvenile. And that’s exactly what Cavetown and Chloe Moriondo were trying to do on Snail. Through witty wordplay and folksy, childish instrumental, you’ve got to love the ambiguity they’ve woven. Are they talking about gender dysphoria (imho, yes)? Childhood mental health? The general fear of growing old? For anyone who’s felt weird in their body, these beloved staples in the queer indie scene have combined forces to bring you an utter delight all up to your own interpretation.
How can someone sum-up the gay struggle of trying to figure out if the person you’re into is also queer so perfectly, all under two minutes? Frankie Cosmos does that and more with an anxious charm that’ll make you wince with a “Fuckin’ been there, bro”. What I love most about this song is that it in itself is so subtly queer-coded, it’s that deliberate Sappho of Lesbos reference which adds a whole ‘nother level of delicious wistfulness to the song.
After To You, you may be off parties for a while. Placing the listener as the straight rejector ‘Jeremy’, Andy Shauf is all vulnerability as he confesses his feelings in a way many queer people know all too well. You can feel his discomfort, his longing, but also his indignation laid bare by the realism he constructs. It’s sad, and it’s tragic—but it’s that vulnerability that keeps you coming back over and over again.
Car Seat Headrest never misses a chance to be blunt, and It’s Only Sex is no different. With deadpan-delivered lyrics over a beat that sounds like dropping a shoe in an oil drum, CSH laments on his weird relationship with sex and sexuality and how fucking confusing it all is. As an asexual anthem or just a wacky song about something pretty gross, either way you won’t forget: it is only sex.
In my mind, gay bars are permanently sweaty and seedy—nothing at all like the bar Rosie Tucker croons about. Tucker offers up both nostalgia and possibility embedded within the gay bar: one of queer community, innocent bliss, and those few actually good nights in town. With teasing lyrics and vocals dipping between spoken and soaring, Gay Bar feels like a conversation with an old mate reliving the fun of Family Bar’s non-problematic days.