OPPOSITE SEX ARE a Gisborne trio now relocated to Dunedin, hence this debut album on local no-fi label Fishrider. Apparently, it’s already received lashings of praise from UK critics, and is even available at the trendy Rough Trade record store.
It’s easy to see the appeal. Their sound is pleasingly idiosyncratic, and as producer Ian Henderson noted, they have something of the quirkiness of ‘70s oddball art pop groups Slapp Happy and the Young Marble Giants.
The biggest problem is the shambolic performances captured on the recording, which apparently occurred over the course of just a day or two. In this case, the clarity of the recording actually counts against the group, because they just don’t sound quite rehearsed enough. Later, some horns and things have been overdubbed, but not enough thought has gone into arrangements and variety of sound and instrumentation from the get-go.
The result is that the singer’s naughty little doll’s voice, together with the guitarist (who is a pretty decent player, but you can only take so much of the responsibility) account for most of what we hear, and that gives us a very limited palette of tonal colour throughout these songs.
At its best, Opposite Sex can be quite charming and attractively willful, but the project sounds rushed and half-conceived, and this is the downside of labels like Fishrider. If we were to compare the album to Slapp Happy and Young Marble Giants, the differences would be pretty straightforward: in the former case, each song on that group’s albums was carefully, artfully arranged and designed, and while there was room for spontaneity, there was none of the slapdash characteristics that manifest themselves on Opposite Sex. While the sound on the Young Marble Giants album was more uniform, and the performances more skeletal, they were perfectly formed and of a moment. Here, they’re not. GARY STEEL
Music = 3/5
Sound = 2.5/5