“The problem is that the high creatures are the server mechanisms of the technology and the system they have created, meaning that we’re dictated to as much by cars. We’ve turned the world into a parking lot. Similarly we use musical technology that we create, and it finds a use for itself”
As the Make-Up’s frontman and mouthpiece, Ian Svenonius often contextualized the band’s music in terms of larger socio-political themes. Svenonius typically described the band and its gospel attitude in Marxist and socialist terms, in opposition of what he saw as thecapitalist, bourgeois, machismo paradigm of rock and roll. This political position was typically presented during live performances and interviews with Svenonius, rather than in the music itself or its lyrics. Svenonius compared the Make-Up’s ideology to the Situationist International group of the 1950s and 1960s, since both presented a critique of the modern, capitalist lifestyle, specifically of capitalism’s effect on popular and consumable culture, such as rock and roll and pop music
In 2000, after releasing their fifth studio album, the Make-Up dissolved, reportedly “due to the large number of counter-gang copy groups which had appropriated their look and sound and applied it to vacuous and counter-revolutionary forms”. Svenonius also added in retrospect, “[The Make-Up] went on for five years. We had a five year plan like Stalin. It was becoming redundant and people were copying us. That’s fine. We don’t have to do it anymore because they can”.
One concern of the group was to keep their music “stripped down” and minimal. This was indicative of the Make-Up’s aversion to letting communication be upstaged by technology. Svenonius explained that “the problem is that the high creatures are the server mechanisms of the technology and the system they have created, meaning that we’re dictated to as much by cars. We’ve turned the world into a parking lot. Similarly we use musical technology that we create, and it finds a use for itself”.
The factory style of production Yé-yé music had utilized interested the group, who were interested in expanding the labor force involved in the production of pop music, a movement which they saw as in opposition to the rock and roll trend (begun by The Beatles) toward self-sufficiency and “downsizing” labor. Through the synthesis of these two disparate and contradictory forms – gospel and Yé-yé – the Make-Up devised a hybrid style they called “Gospel Yeh-Yeh”. Live interpretations of this style can be found on the Make-Up’s two full-length live releases, After Dark and Untouchable Sound, including “They Live by Night,” a song recorded both in studio and live, on Destination: Love – Live! and Untouchable Sound respectively.