Laura Bond | Longreads | January 2020 | 9 minutes (2,218 words)
I spent the final dregs of a sixth-grade summer in my brother’s room, perched on the perimeter of his waterbed, forced to listen to the weird new music he discovered every day. It was a gloomy parade of bands from England that didn’t register on FM radio in 1987: The Smiths, Soft Cell, Siouxsie and the Banshees. I hated most of this music but, like the Phoenix heat, it was inescapable. I tried to hide from it, but the sound warbled through the sheetrock wall that separated our bedrooms. It permeated my ears and consciousness.
One sweaty August evening, my brother finally played something I liked. The singer’s voice was deep, resonant, with a British twang that was both elegant and cocky, a combination I found hard to resist in music and, years later, boyfriends. The melodies were bright and catchy. On the album cover, four pale young musicians crowded together wearing leather and eyeliner, conspiratorial and cute. Depeche Mode, they were called. As we listened to the entire record, twice, I felt for the first time the whole-body percolation that accompanies the discovery of good new music.