Once described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist”, Poly Styrene was the unforgettable front woman of punk pioneers Xray Spex and is renowned for her discordant vocals and ball busting witticisms. Thirty years on from the band’s shambling, musical rebellion and this iconic female figure of Brit punk is back. With the help of uber producer Martin Glover (AKA Youth from Killing Joke), Generation Indigo is Styrene’s latest solo effort and is a kaleidoscopic view into music genres as the singer strives to move away from old punk tricks.
Worry not loyal fans, there is still some of X Ray Spex‘s signature sounds here. ‘No Rockefeller’ is a sauntering summer number contemplating issues of race while a Spex style sax plays out over Styrene’s smooth vocals. Similarly, ‘Code Pink Dub’s’ offbeat guitar strums and driving bass lines are reminiscent of her fellow 70s sirens, The Slits with Styrene’s reggae rap and pulsing beats.
By contrast, new single, ‘Virtual Boyfriend’, is a step into the modern age for Styrene commenting on the dating troubles of a 2000 teen – “we haven’t seen each other at all, text or a missed call, myspace friend that’s all…” The track, (co-incidentally picked as Video of the Week on 6 music’s Nemone’s show in light of its release last week) is laden with sparkling synths and and 80′s cyber vocals, not too dissimilar to electro duo, Robots In Disguise.
A hearty release to consume, Generation Indigo clearly serves up an exotic range of styles and at some points, you can’t help but wish the ambitious front woman had stuck with just one. The moments of genius lie in Styrene’s ability to hark back effortlessly to those ska sprinkled sounds of the 70′s rather than the album’s chirpy pop hits about her love of rubber soles and coloured canvases that all seems a little contrived.
Poly Styrene once sang the infamous line ‘”People think little girls should be seen and not heard” – thanks to this release, a whole new generation (Indigo or not) can still hear her strong female voice.
*originally posted on thegirlsare