Simon Reynolds is among the most engaging and astute British music writers to emerge over the last two decades. His work has been an object lesson in taking popular music seriously, in how to write intelligently about something so intimately linked with visceral enjoyment. Whether he's dealing with Ghost Box, grime or Gang of Four, Reynolds always captures the immediacy of the sonic experience and communicates the pleasures of the musical text. At the same time, his wide-ranging work has often theorized that experience accessibly, contextualizing it as a site of intersecting historical forces (such as race, class, gender and sexuality). Few other contemporary music critics combine these two apparently divergent approaches in such a seamless, readable or illuminating fashion.
Reynolds' latest publication, Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 (Viking Penguin, 2006) -- the first book-length account of post-punk -- maps the continuities and discontinuities among the movement's sounds and sites, from Sheffield to Manchester to New York to San Francisco and beyond. Reviewing Rip It Up for The Guardian, Andrew Mueller said: "Anyone who claims to have read five better books about pop is mad, or a liar."