Good review. I had a similar reaction to this book. I think the thing about Reynolds is that he's trying to make history fit his overview rather than have his overview fit the facts. Why for instance are Devo a post punk band when they predate punk and why aren't bands like Sparks post punk when everything he says post-punk is applies to them as much as it applies to Devo. In fact if you look at that entire era, hip bands and mainstream bands were influenced by the same things. The difference was really that Punk ethics meant that the results were harsher and less commercial sounding. He also states things that are completely wrong. For instance the idea that studio recording became more important. The studio had in fact been the most important tool in the music industry since the late 1960s and the big bands of the era actually toured with masses of equipment to reproduce the sound of their albums live and did not as he believes spend their time recording records that replicated their live sound. Further more bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four sound, from what I can tell, sound almost identical live to their records because the music they made was so stripped back. Historically he misses how widespread electronic mus already was. Its all over film and TV soundtracks from the 70s and 80s , it was not introduced by a bunch of people he interviewed and had a coffee with.
But what the book really suffers from his it's attempt to make what was being written more central than it is. I was a little kid in this era and I can remember my older brother playing stuff from all over the place, the division between rock and pop was not actually that great for ordinary record buyers. And your right, the guy, can't write about what music feels or sounds like.
It's a very snobby book too, not just musically but socially with lots of stuff, about class that isn't born out by the evidence. As more of a rock fan I think he also doesn't understand the way music progressed. Punk, post Punk and Hardcore fed into rock just as much as it did pop as listening to old RATM and NIN records instantly attest.