More than any other digital phenomenon, streaming has disseminated popular music from its roots. When a song can be accessed anywhere, why bother visiting a local record store or club? Streaming music exists in a cloud, and clouds dissipate. If modern pop often seems vague and unmoored, it’s entirely fair to blame Spotify for that.
The musicians behind Pre-Sexual Activities are from a real place — New York City — and their output squarely places them within their local musical culture. PSA producers Andrea Monorchio and Nikolaus Schuhbeck have plenty to say.
Making sure they’ve got their funk in place, Pre-Sexual Activities create songs that are motivated and pointed. On “Spotify Your Life,” the musicians lock into an irresistible groove graced by a soulful vocal, decorated with gorgeously stacked harmonies. Simultaneously, the song calls attention to the way streaming services have transformed our relationship to the music we love, and asks whether the convenience and immediacy of new technologies can compensate for what’s been taken away.
Andrea Monorchio is behind the camera for this crisply shot clip for “Spotify Your Life.” His video is every bit as trenchant and unsparing as the song. A suitor surprises his girlfriend with an album, a cassette, and a CD. Each one represents a different time in history — ’70s cool, ’80s slick, and ’90s endearing. Each time, he creates a genuine physical connection to the music he’s bearing. Finally, the modern man arrives with nothing but a phone, absorbed in its screen. “Love Was Better Before,” reads the superimposed message, and we think you’ll know exactly what Pre-Sexual Activities means by that.
The clip then cuts to a true landmark of New York musical culture: Second Hand Records, the famed vinyl shop on Myrtle Street, and precisely the sort of brick and mortar business that’s jeopardized by streaming services. The blindfolded members of Pre-Sexual Activities perform on the floor of the record store, while a DJ spins their disc on pleasantly ancient equipment. Once the song ends, the Store owner slaps an “Out Of Business” sign on his window, leaving no question about what’s at stake and what music lovers ought to be fighting to preserve.