Champing at the bit from the sidelines, I made some impatient and precocious Titanic-style "state of the nation" addresses myself. In the third issue of Monitor, "What's Missing?" had the hand-wringing tone (it was 1985, Bad Music Era nadir) but only faint inklings of a forward path. A couple of issues later, in very early '86, "Against Health and Efficiency" sketched a new kind of oppositionality, fastening on currents within underground rock that seemed to constitute a refusal of optimism and self-optimization, breaking the link between "youth" and the idea of fun or fulfillment.
But the essay that really slots into the Titanic lineage is "1976/86", from the final issue of Monitor, #6, which came out in the summer of 1986. Talk about handwringing! The papers were full of tenth anniversary of punk talk - commemorative pieces and nostalgic flashbacks whose unifying tone was "What happened to the revolution? Where did it all go wrong?” 1986 also saw Dave Rimmer’s Like Punk Never Happened, a book about Culture Club and New Pop. Scanning the landscape of U.K. music, to me it seemed like the utter opposite was actually the case: practically everywhere you looked there was ample evidence that punk had happened, to a stifling degree in fact.
New Pop itself had been a stage in the punk / postpunk dialectic. I knew that from living through it in real-time. But for issue 4 of Monitor I decided to retrace the dialectic, visiting the Bodleian Library and ordering up back copies of the music papers between 1976 and 1982. That resulted in the essay "New Pop" - not an example of "Titanic" discourse so much as "Titanic-ology", a Foucault-informed analysis of the rock discourse. Researching the piece certainly reconfirmed my view that the current music scene was massively over-determined by punk and set me up for what proved to be my final Monitor statement.
“1976/86” calls for a new direction. The idea of music as "opposition" itself is up for retirement. I write about washing "the punk notion of threat out of our blood". Much as I loved then and will always love Bollocks, Buzzcocks, Germfree Adolescents, et al, the potential in punk seemed utterly played out.
Members of Monitor would continue this polemic at Melody Maker, arguing that the scene urgently needed unpunking and fastening on any musical developments that promised to hasten this .