If you can put aside this book as being a thesis and think of it more as a one-sided argument with some bloke (albeit a well informed, verbose and well educated bloke) in the pub, it is actually a very good read.
OK, so it drags in places and could have probably lost 20% without damaging the argument but Simon Reynolds does make a very good point and that is, essentially, can you name a single track from the past 12 years that would have seemed out of place, beyond comprehension, in the '90's? I could perhaps argue a case for people like Skrillex, but then Reynolds would counter whether it's truly new music or is it a logical follow on to the real game changer which was early 90's rave? And has Skrillex and his dubstep contempories started a teenage movement that's infultrated fashion and language? That's why it's an argument and no so much a thesis - yes Retromania can be flawed and you don't have to agree with everything Reynolds says, but he does make a very, very good point.
Without a shadow the noughties will go down in history as the first decade of popular music, dating all the way back to the jazz age, where the technology (ipod, Youtube) were the real stars, the revolutionaries that changed everything - not the Beatles, Bowie or Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk or Grandmaster Flash. As Reynolds points out, the musical difference between the years, say 1978 to '79 or 1991 to '92 were immense but did 2004 feel any different to 1998, or 2010? Not really.
Has music stopped progressing because we favour its past? If we do, is it because there is now such a wealth of historic creativity to draw from, to inspire us, and that ocean of reference is available to everyone on itunes, Youtube or illegal download at the instant click of a button, so why do we need to keep looking forward? And even if we want to, how do we escape this omnipresent past? Do we want to live dangerously anymore? It's not in Reynold's book but perhaps a quick look at the UK's top 10 selling singles of the 2000's can go a long way to answer some of his questions: Number one - Evergreen by Will Young, two - Unchained Melody by Gareth Gates, three - Is This The Way To Amarillo? by Tony Christie. Two more of the top 10 are cover versions, and a further two TV talent show winners. Music as pure showbiz rather than heartfelt rebellion. Is this how pop will die?