We have some very sad news out of the UK to report this morning. Former X-Ray Spex frontwoman and punk pioneer Poly Styrene (Marianne Elliott-Said) has passed away at the age of 53 after a bout with cancer. This comes just one day before the US release of her thrilling new album, Generation Indigo, which proved she’d never lost a step or a beat during her storied musical career.
Yesterday, Maria Schurr wrote of Generation Indigo: “With Poly Styrene’s first solo album since 2004’s Flower Aeroplane, she has taken the Spex blueprint and modified it to perfectly fit the foibles of today’s generation, the end result sounding a bit like M.I.A. minus the sometimes petty forays into provocation. In short, Styrene has reinvented herself as an elder perfectly attuned to and capable of commenting on youth culture.”
She always was the incisive cultural chronicler and commentator from the very beginning. X-Ray Spex’s 1978 album Germ Free Adolescents was an iconic punk release, anticipating and influencing greatly the future riot girl movement as well as being one of punk’s and late ‘70s Britain’s most important records. Poly Styrene’s music was always smart and fun in equal doses, making listeners think about gender politics, while shaking their booty and enjoying her marvelous wit. One of the great women of popular music has passed and will be greatly missed.