HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

2 August 2009

Au Pairs - 'Playing with a Different Sex' (Human)

Ah, the sweet sound of 1981. An affected British voice, sneering lyrics with something to say, so topical and so danceable a la fois. Hard bass guitar lines, bouncing around a tight, forward-driving beat and the guitars are the mood here. Scratching and clawing in the image of Andy Gill, they're mixed a bit low sometimes but the angles are there for inspection. And if Gang of Four built the lighthouse, the beam was shined on 'Anthrax' for lyrical content to further mine -- how else do we explain 'Love Song'? Gender roles are explored in almost every song, sometimes explicitly ('I'm your erotic profit / a bonus from the rock & roll situation', from 'Unfinished Business') and sometimes philosophically. It goes global on 'Armagh', a precog's song for Donald Rumsfeld to sing 25 years later. Extraordinary renditions aside, male-female relationships are the name of the game and this mixed-gendered band throws up rhythms and textures that rival anything else from the period. If there's some criticism it's that the polemics might distract a bit from the fun; the disco/soapbox dichotomy is taken to the extreme here, though to be honest, the tunes really rank up there with the best of the era. 'Headache' has atmospheric scrapes over a motorik groove, recalling A Certain Ratio's most interesting experiments; most of the album is fun enough to play alongside Pylon. And just enough pop hooks to drill into those corners of the brain.

No comments:

Post a Comment