Thursday, April 28, 2005

a post-ironic look at post-punk

The Observer on Britain's post-punk (i.e 'before most of the US ever heard of it') scene:

Today we tend to think of post-punk as consisting entirely of angular agit-prop (like Gang of Four) or ominous angst (like Joy Division), partly because those groups have influenced the current spate of fashionable retro-post-punk outfits, from Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand to Interpol and the Rapture. But it was also a great period for pure pop sensibility. Consider the geometric tautness and melodic concision of Wire's Chairs Missing, the sweet shambles of Postcard groups like Orange Juice and Josef K. Then came the contagious exuberance of 2-Tone outfits such as the Specials, Madness, and the Beat; synthpop bands such as the Human League and Soft Cell with their fire-and-ice combination of cold, glistening electronics and hot, heartfelt passion; the bright, rejoicing melodiousness of Liverpool bands like Echo and the Bunnymen or the Teardrop Explodes (Julian Cope finally getting round to writing songs rather just talking about them in the Kirkland cafe).
It is time the story of several thousand of the most pretentious people on the planet at one time was told. Pretentiousness, of course, being a good thing, in my book. Far better to over-reach than to aim low; as Adam Ant sang in 'Prince Charming', ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

A great essay on a great musical era.