If you are one of those people who can guess who wrote each Beatles hit; whether it was Lennon or McCartney, then you’ll surely understand where I’m coming from here. Here goes.
It may be true, to some extent, that individual taste plays a large part in defining what can be classified as “Mod Music”, but I believe that if we try to put our finger on what makes a record appeal to the cool Mod sensibility, we should consider the following elements (in no particular order):
There is some melody.
It’s complicated enough to make you think that the musicians are good.
There could be some jazzifying of well-known pop tunes.
Maybe you can’t hear all of the notes perfectly.
The tune sounds slightly improvised but you still appreciate that there is a pre-defined melody or structure on which to hang it all.
Line/bar lengths may differ see Hi-Heel Sneakers, Mannish Boy, My Babe.
Instrumentation in common:
piano or electric organ, Hammond.
tight, minimal, chippy, fizzy drums. Sticks and brushes, rimshots.
congas and other Latin American percussion instruments.
Atmospheric elements in common
Not exactly sweet sound
Live, “all in one take” sound
Crowd noise in background – appreciative whoops, hollers, yeahs.
Crowd hand clapping. Maybe on second and fourth beats in the bar.
Tense, live feeling of it could all fall to pieces at any moment.
Production effects such as echo chamber used. Reverb?