A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad

Duke Univ. Sept. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781478018582. pap. $25.95. MUSIC
Rodríguez (English and media/cultural studies, Univ. of California, Riverside; Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics) examines the powerful intimacy found in the post-punk music scene, focusing on 1980s British artists (Pet Shop Boys; Adam Ant) and their Latinx audiences in the U.S. Beginning with the iconic and influential Siouxsie and the Banshees, Rodríguez traces connections between the post-punk bands that followed, between audiences and musicians, and between musicians and collaborators, showcasing the power of music to cross oceans and generations. From Bauhaus’s “deathrockers” to Soft Cell’s Tainted Love to the style of Blue Rondo a la Turk and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s urge to Relax, post-punk music celebrated sexual subcultures, opportunities, desire, and nocturnal escape and represented the feelings of often-ignored queer and Mexican American young people. This at-once scholarly and personal book is a moving tribute to the escapism and comfort that music can give to the most marginalized members of society: Rodríguez provides well-researched analysis of the influences on and of post-punk bands, in realms from racial politics to ethnic cultural dynamics, and also writes of his own experiences as a young fan searching for belonging.
VERDICT Rodríguez’s book successfully balances an intellectual understanding of the cultural ramifications of post-punk music with poignant and alluring background stories, appealing to scholars and fans alike.
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