Album of the Week: Bronski Beat's The Age of Consent

In celebration of Pride Month, I wanted to revisit Bronski Beat's 1984 record, The Age of Consent, the first hit album exploring gay themes by an openly gay band. Nothing is subtext here: the opener "Why?" is a love song about two men "together fighting for [their] love," "Smalltown Boy" is still the benchmark for songs about homophobia,  and "Need a Man Blues" coupled with a cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" makes for an erotic closer to the LP. The album is also premium 80s pop, both expertly sung in Jimmy Somerville's flexible falsetto and performed by the band. Some of the tracks burn slowly but have a sexy earnestness--including "No More War," which sounds like a bedroom call as much as a protest song, and the tap-dance sweaty cabaret of "Heatwave." Bronski Beat placed their sexuality front and center, with all its romantic and political entanglements, changing pop music forever.

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