WTF is Twee? First emerging in the Northern UK in the mid-80s before spreading to America, Twee was simply defined as the lighter sweeter cousin of punk. It was also known as indie pop before that term got taken over by synth-centric bands like Passion Pit and the like.
Twee as a musical genre is hallmarked by light vocals, jangly distorted guitars, and poppy melodies. As an aesthetic, it skews toward English school kid tropes as well as a silly sense of humor that delights in the cute and a childlike sense of melodrama.
I don’t have the time to go into a complete history of the genre/scene (Nitsuh Abebe wrote that article for Pitchfork) but I did have time to make a mix of some of my favorite Twee songs. There are classics like “Twee” by Tullycraft and deep cuts like “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Troublemaker” by The All Girl Summer Fun Band. Some of the newer songs in this mix take the basic structures of Twee and expand them into something new, like Adult Mom’s “Full Screen” or Frankie Cosmos’ “Buses Splash with Rain.” So clasp some pink plastic barrettes in your hair and take a listen.