Of the many things Poly Styrene was, timid was never amongst them. Her personal and musical arc, from 1977’s Germ Free Adolescents all the way to this collection of songs for what would be her final album, Generation Indigo, showed quite the opposite.
She was many things to many people: a feminist punk icon, an experimental artist, an environmentalist and a staunch anti-consumerist. She openly shunned labels like “riot grrrl” “protest singer” and “sex symbol”, titles which she had quite easily earned. What she knew was that such labels were conventions of writers and the media who have a suffocating need to affix concepts to everything.
::: Poly Styrene – Code Pink Dub :::
What’s clear to anyone who pays even a cursory attention to the lyrics on this album is that her intentions were ultimately quite pure. Winding a balance between defiant and divine, she wanted to create some kind of harmony that would make the world a better place — not a revolutionary concept though, truly, Poly was precisely that — and in these songs, she had clearly unlocked a way to manipulate popular culture as a means to convey her thoughts about the injustices she saw. If tuneful power pop, dubstep, reggae-influenced pop music & electropop was a vehicle that could deliver her, she was willing to pretend as a means of subversion. What nobody counted on, probably not even her, is that the results would be so beautiful, beatific and satisfying to hear.
Producer Martin Glover, whose work has fueled the careers of artists U2 to Edwyn Collins to his own band Killing Joke, leaves no gaps. In life, this album would surely have propelled her headlong to the attentions of a generation raised on Lady Gaga, The Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In the tragic irony of her passage on the day before the record was released in the U.S., I hope it nonetheless does the same. It’s hard to imagine, hearing this record, seeing her on the brink of resurgence only to disappear into the void.
::: SEE ALSO ::: [R.I.P.] Poly Styrene, Punk Icon (1957-2011)
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