fri 11/07/2014

CD: Poly Styrene - Generation Indigo | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Poly Styrene - Generation Indigo

Winning pop from punk icon

Poly Styrene's 'Generation Indigo': Not for those sporting punk blinkers
Poly Styrene's 'Generation Indigo': Not for those sporting punk blinkers

Anyone expecting the 1977-style foghorn-voiced Poly Styrene from Generation Indigo is going to be disappointed. Instead, this album is sweetly delivered, melodic and driving modern pop with a Euro electro-dance sheen. She’s not bellowing “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” over bee-in-a-jar guitar and caterwauling sax, but embracing something much more friendly.

Of course, this review is tempered by the recent news that Poly has been diagnosed with cancer. Produced by Youth, Generation Indigo isn’t for those sporting punk blinkers, although she’ll always be defined by having fronted X-Ray Spex between 1977 and 1979. After that, she returned in 1980 with the solo album Translucence. A quiet, folky set, it had little of the X-Ray Spex sound. The Conscious Consumer album from 1995 was made as X-Ray Spex with the band’s original sax player Lora Logic and wasn’t full-on punk. She also released Flower Aeroplane in 2004 – another reflective solo album. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that there’s more to her music than the old X-Ray Spex sound.

Even so, the immediate and hugely toe-tapping Generation Indigo is a surprise. Poly’s voice is instantly recognisable, but it’s warm, almost conversational these days, on a line between “Atomic”-era Debbie Harry and St Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell. Album closer “Electric Blue Monsoon” even evokes Laura Nyro. The title track might showcase some current dubstep moves, but the album soars with songs like “White Gold”, a chugging, almost powerpop electro-popper. Its “I wish I could fly” chorus is impossible to rid from your head. Lyrically, she’s concerned with global warming, who’s running the world, the shortcomings of the virtual world. Way back she sang "The Day the World Turned Dayglo" and the meaning of colour is still on her mind: the crimson lips of “Ghoulish”, “White Gold”, “Electric Blue Monsoon”, the “metallic glow” of the footwear of album opener “I Luv Ur Sneakers”. If you need convincing about Generation Indigo, seek out key cut “Ghoulish”.

Watch the video for Generation Indigo’s “Virtual Boyfriend”

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