Review Summary: The path is wet, come to me..’80-’85 Part III
It seems that to the layman, The Raincoats were always a band easier recognizable for their importance and imprint on the indie scene and female-led music than the music itself. That distinction is understandable. The Raincoats were a singularly trying listen to those simply looking for a melodic itch to scratch. Dense, busy and increasingly difficult; the noisier, reverb-soaked aspirations they had first sunk their teeth into on The Raincoats
were all distilled into a clean asymmetrical roil on Odyshape
, pulling the band further away from the mainstream’s good graces and into that hallowed artistic space of ‘you either get it or you don’t.’
had come out during no-wave’s ever-brief peak of critical recognition, even by that niche’s fanned-out praxes, The Raincoats were doing something utterly of the left-field. Odyshape
does indeed burrow deeper than eccentric rave-ups or opiated no-wave balladry. A heady mash of stylistic tangents, the album’s Vivien Goldman-like streaks of odd-patterned dub were twisted up with indie and folk and primitivist disco, and then passed through the distinct prism of surreal feminism, the sort of abstracted call-to-arms and commentary that X-Ray Spex had scorched through on Germ Free Adolescents
just a few years earlier.
Interruption becomes Odyshape
. At surface value, most every turn the band take looks less an aesthetic choice and more a halting crash. The music-box twinkling and clock ticks that break “Only Loved at Night” out of its eerie strut. The hollowed-out tribal percussion churning underneath the reggae strum of “Dancing in My Head.” The lopsided pitch of closer “Go Away.” The songs that do seemingly manage to contain some status-quo dulcetness (Family Treet, Baby Song) still carry that neurotic underbelly, ready to fall apart into elementals at the slightest provocation. All of that havoc is anchored by Ana Da Silva’s and Gina Birch’s agitated crooning.
For all the jittery architecture, Odyshape
keeps an unnerving cohesiveness in its aim. That is The Raincoats’ biggest feat and why this record is so distinctive and idiosyncratically important. It’s anti-music in perhaps its most elegant form, all of its disruptive elements plaiting together into something bigger than the sum of its parts, deconstruction that actually musters new birth.
After all these years, Odyshape
still stands as a record of its own ilk. Plenty of The Raincoats’ peers were plowing the same ground at the time. Delta 5 and their solemn treatises of gender relations. The Au Pairs and their funk-sodden salvos. Even The Mekons in their early days were plying their hand at this sort of beatific rack and ruin. But none of it was ever as strange. Or as f#cking good.