There are few songs as synonymous with the ’80s — and the decades of new wave dance parties that followed — quite like Modern English’s “I Melt With You”. The 1982 post-punk hit guaranteed that the British band would have a place not only on decade-appropriate best-of compilations released until the end of time, but also lame pub trivia nights where subjects like “one hit wonders” are easy-breeze first-round topics. But like most bands saddled with the unfortunate tag of “one hit wonder” (as if having a single hit is anything of which to be ashamed), there’s a wealth of music behind the familiar single.
For Modern English, who play the Middle East in Cambridge this Tuesday (June 7), touring the 35th anniversary of 1981 album Mesh & Lace (released a year before After the Snow, which boasted “I Melt With You” as its second single), that wealth includes seven studio albums, 15 singles, and countless songs heard in underground nightclubs over the past three decades.
Of course, “I Melt With You”, a song about having sex during nuclear fallout, remains Modern English’s signature tune. And we will no doubt hear it at the Middle East. But Vanyaland reached out to the show’s DJ, Chris Ewen, who holds after-midnight court these days at the roaming Heroes dance night, goth and industrial party X-Mortis, and ZuZu’s Tension, a just-arrived Thursday night post-punk soirée, for a primer on other Modern English songs from the band’s extensive catalog.
Consider it Modern English songs to love and admire once we’re all done melting away. Selections and words below are from Ewen (including a bonus track right at the start), and take further note: when buying tickets through Ticketweb, use the code MESHANDLACE to get $2 off.
“Gathering Dust/16 Days”
“The first two tracks off of the Mesh & Lace album, later seamlessly woven together by This Mortal Coil, with the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser on vocals. ’16 Days’ is Modern English frontman Robbie Grey’s favorite track from that album, because of its experimental production & vocal/tape cut-ups.”