I wasn't expecting to love ex-X-Ray Spex’s Poly Styrene's new release, My Virtual Boyfriend, quite as much as I do. By the unfortunate mathematics of aging and rock'n'roll, it's rare that a past their prime rocker releases new and relevant material. The fireball that is Ms. Poly Styrene has failed to disappoint.
The single is a far cry from the fierce caterwaul of 1977's Oh Bondage! Up Yours!. The energy's different: it's frenetic, disorganized, and utterly bored with the technical sludge the singer has to wade through in order to get close to her virtual boyfriend. Yet, in 2011, where internet motion sickness is a real thing (or should be) and we spend a lot of our time online trying to get off, Virtual Boyfriend seems a suitable post-script from the band whose first album is called Germ Free Adolescents. Today, where a teen's social life often take place alone in the sterile world of facbeook, the clinically-clean girl of Germ Free Adolescences seems more a reality than a nightmare fantasy. In Germ Free Adolescences, the lovers are distanced by the girl's obsession with her purity and bodily cleanliness. In Virtual Boyfriend, it's a blackberry's and myspace that brings the couple together ultimately to keep them apart. In both cases, the afflicted partner is present only in their absence. It's the desire to get close to the other that keeps the romance going, and neither end up achieving that holy-grail of human sexual contact.
I love the fearlessly eighties graphics, the casio beats, and the boyfriend who loves his blackberry more. Styrene’s bored and listless drone that runs through the whole song is the perfect cherry on top. The song is Styrene’s first release from hew new album, Indigo Generation, which comes out April 26th. Let’s hope it’s as apt as the single.