Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Poly Styrene

  • Translucence [United Artists, 1980] A-
  • Generation Indigo [Future Noise Music, 2011] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Translucence [United Artists, 1980]
If the retarded tempos and professional musicians mean this isn't rock and roll, then what the fuck do you call the Shirelles? Speed and crudity aside, the pleasures here recall Germfree Adolescents--nursery-rhyme melodicism and tongue-in-cheek versifying superimposed on an image of provocative, charming plasticity. And if you believe that means she's "plastic," just what exactly is your beef? Are you a hippie or something? A-

Generation Indigo [Future Noise Music, 2011]
Life after "Oh Bondage Up Yours" began with Poly's dreamily unpunk 1980 studio-rock Translucence, a sui generis switcheroo absurdly accused of presaging Everything but the Girl. Now there'll be claims her easy-skanking groove is a "dubstep" breakthrough, once again obscuring the main reason her music has connected since she wore braces, which is that it's exceptionally tuneful, if not the main reason we care, which is that she's an exceptionally good soul. She never tops the vegan opener "I Luv Ur Sneakers." But the four humanist protest songs she rolls out just before an unnecessarily dreamy closer seem so unforced you feel for all those who have striven so hard to do nothing more. Ari, Viv, Exene--because sisterhood is powerful, this one's for you. A-

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