Modern English

Modern English are a U.K. New Wave/goth-rock band that debuted with a single on Limp Records in 1979, followed by a trio of standalone singles and three albums on 4AD between 1980 and 1984. They are best known for the 1981/82 albums Mesh & Lace and After the Snow and the singles “I Melt With You” and “Hands Across the Sea.”

Members: Robbie Grey (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Michael Conroy (bass, 1979-91), Gary McDowell (lead guitar, 1979-86), Stephen Walker (keyboards, 1979-86), Richard Brown (drums, 1979-86)

Modern English evolved from The Lepers, a Colchester punk trio formed in 1977 by singer Robbie Grey, guitarist Gary McDowell, and bassist Michael Conroy. With the 1979 arrivals of drummer Richard Brown and keyboardist Stephen Walker, they changed their name to Modern English and released their debut single, “Drowning Man” (b/w “Silent World”), on three-press Limp Records.

In 1980, Modern English became one of the first signings to 4AD, which issued their second single, “Swans on Glass” (b/w “Incident”). It was co-produced at Spaceward Studios by Mike Kemp, who’d recently engineered records by the Soft Boys, Mandy Morton and Spriguns (Magic Lady), and Gary Numan‘s Tubeway Army (Tubeway Army). Months later, Modern English self-produced their third single and second 4AD release, “Gathering Dust” (b/w “Tranquility of a Summer Movement (Vice Versa).”


  • “Drowning Man” / “Silent World” (1979)
  • “Swans on Glass” / “Incident” (1980)
  • “Gathering Dust” / “Tranquility of a Summer Movement (Vice Versa)” (1980)
  • “Smiles and Laughter” / “Mesh and Lace” (1981)
  • Mesh & Lace (1981)
  • After the Snow (1982)
  • Ricochet Days (1984)
  • Stop Start (1986)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *