That’s the wonder of Geffen’s book, their first. It’s not a straightforward history of music, but a path that turns and dives, arguing that music from decades ago still resonates across today’s pop landscape, even as new musicians continue to break ground ... History is too restrictive a word for the book anyway; Geffen blends biography, theory, and memoir in an account that goes deep instead of wide ... Once you start reading it, you’ll hear the world through new ears. You’ll devour Glitter Up the Dark with eyes wide and mind racing, drawing connections to whatever music you listen to. It’s exciting. And if you’re a queer or trans listener, it’s validating reading about how generations of us have found a haven in music ... It can feel like they’re telling you secrets, but really, Geffen is just showing you how to hear what’s been there all along, and still is today.
The book speaks to pop music’s effect on future generations of norm-breaking artists, but also on public perceptions of gender and its engagement with race and class politics ... Part of the joy of reading Glitter Up the Dark lies in Geffen’s sheer depth of research ... Identity has never been a fixed idea—instead, it’s always been a conduit for grand expressions of selfhood. Geffen seamlessly imparts this idea into a patchwork of music history ... offers a musical roadmap for such an activation, one paved with countless examples of gender as a device for personal metamorphosis. It’s an essential contribution to the modern music-book canon, made all the more intimate in Sasha Geffen’s hands.
... incisive ... It is seldom now, fifty years after the Beatles’ breakup, that one encounters new ideas about the most written-up band of all time—but, I have to say, I’d never quite heard that one before. Such is the subversive thrill of Geffen’s wide-ranging book, which takes a brisk tour of the last century or so of pop music to ask a number of provocative questions ... Their lucid prose is frequently enlivened by small, passing insights into music I’ve encountered a million times but will now forever hear refracted through their imagery and words ... also converses with the more academic strains of queer theory (without getting overwhelmed by them) ... Geffen’s perspective is refreshing, and sometimes able to draw welcome attention to other critics’ blind spots ... In both its approach to criticism and in the sounds of the forward-looking young artists described in its later chapters, Glitter Up the Dark subtly captures a generational shift ... What I found most valuable about Glitter Up the Dark was the lens through which it looks back and invites us to notice how such seeming 'subversions' have always been present beneath the surface of even the most popular music ... Reading this book often gave me the sensation that I was looking at a familiar scene through a kaleidoscope, suddenly seeing smeared borders and tiny, winking rainbows everywhere.