THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Romeo Void – “Never Say Never”

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Romeo Void – “Never Say Never”.

“I might like you better if we slept together.” While its title is “Never Say Never,” Romeo Void’s 1982 single might as well be named after its most distinctive lyric — and, indeed, one of rock’s all-time greatest lines.

Those nine words capture the song’s sexy yet sneering and detached essence, making “Never Say Never” as much of a come-on as it is a put-down. With this song, Romeo Void achieves a deft balancing act, walking the fine line between arty punk poetesses like Patti Smith and the Raincoats and more pop-oriented new wave groups, such as Blondie and the Pretenders. 

Though the song’s stark, propulsive rhythm and wailing saxophone are compelling enough on their own, it’s Debora Iyall’s teasing, existential musings — which predated and predicted the aloof yet frank sexuality of early- and mid-’90s artists such as Elastica and Liz Phair — that elevate “Never Say Never” from a mere post-punk relic into a subversive, influential classic.

Even if the band couldn’t follow up on the promise of this single, “Never Say Never” remains one of new wave’s most distinctive and innovative moments.



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