The voice of Poly Styrene doesn’t have the thrilling banshee wail as back in the days of X-Ray Spex, but her latest album, nonetheless, offers its own kind of thrills.
Styrene, who died in April 2011, offered a largely upbeat, electro-pop direction on “Generation Indigo.” The album gets off to a zippy start with “I Luv Ur Sneakers,” both a celebration and sendup of the lure of trendy footwear. This is the strength of Styrene’s best work; the lyrics are double-edged and can be read humorously or as critiques. As in the album’s first single, “Virtual Boyfriend,” which details how a romance can nowadays be carried out without the two parties ever having to meet in the flesh (it also has the year’s best put-down: “You’re like a MySpace friend, that’s all”).
There’s more serious commentary in “Code Pink Dub,” a staunchly anti-war song, while racism is the subject of “No Rockefeller.” There’s a strong spiritual vibe to “Electric Blue Monsoon,” and “L.U.V.” addresses the very reason for our existence. All nicely balanced by songs like the bouncy “Kitsch,” which itself sounds like an X-Ray Spex outtake.