Goth: A History

Hachette. Sept. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780306828423. $29. MUSIC
Former drummer and cofounder of the Cure, Tolhurst (Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys) offers his recollections of the goth movement. Defining modern-day goth as the essence of a melancholy spirit, he locates the origins of the black-on-black (clothing, makeup, hair) outsider subculture in rebellious punk rock, which emboldened youths to musically express their feelings about the gloomy economic and social realities of late 1970s and early 1980s England. Tolhurst identifies the influences of goth in literature (Sartre, Camus, T.S. Eliot), cinema (Dracula), and art (Francis Bacon) before addressing the minimalist experimentation of pre-goth performers, such as Suicide, the Doors, Nico, and Low-era David Bowie. The book highlights goth pioneers, such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the author’s own band. This title also delves into later permutations of the genre, such as the Cocteau Twins, Sisters of Mercy, and American deathrock (Christian Death). Tolhurst concludes the book with goth hangouts, such as Camden Palace and the Batcave, and his triumph over substance abuse.
VERDICT An impressionistic, heartfelt account of the origins, influence, and curative powers of the goth subculture. Will likely appeal to the existing legions of the goth community.
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