Every so often an album crosses my writing and reviewing desk that causes a certain noise to be made, that of my jaw hitting said implement of creation. The self-titled debut from New Zealand’s Opposite Sex qualifies as one of those records. Already gaining some airplay on BBC Radio 6 in England, and named album of the day recently by New York / New Jersey radio station WFMU, Opposite Sex is one of those amazing pieces of ragged art that must simply be heard to be believed. Essentially, Opposite Sex is a male/female trio (though sometimes the band plays live as a duo) that makes minor key surf rock in a very shambolic way: the band sounds at times as though it is barely able to play instruments, in a kind of naïve, Half Japanese kind of way. And, boy, is it ever endearing.
The album is buoyed by a bevy of highlights, and is consistently enjoyable to listen to, but the album’s two singles are particularly captivating. “La Rat” is a pumping anthem where the guitar sounds a little like a careening Farfisa organ, and is a delectable piece of thrash. “Sea Shanty”, which follows, is the kind of song that early Decemberists might have played if they were a punk band, and is sadly yearning and aching in alternate measure. In some ways, Opposite Sex is reminiscent of that first Vivian Girls album, but only if it had darker tones and the female vocals were infused with a deep sense of longing. Even outside of the awesome first two songs, the whole album is almost just as great: “Hamish and Chips” sounds like the Ramones crossed with Blondie, giving off a feeling of excitement as though you were on the ground floor in the ‘70s when those bands were releasing their first albums. “The Bones of Dr. White” is blues played in a particularly damaged way – paging Jon Spencer anyone? Conclusively, you can only surmise that Opposite Sex will become one of those long players that hipsters in the know will pass amongst each other and say in hushed tones: “Listen to this!” Opposite Sex is just one of those great and rewarding hard-to-find records that you’ll probably have to skim the import bin to find. Get it. You’ll thank me later for this near instant classic. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, as I have a throbbing jaw to nurse with ice cubes, thanks in all part to listening to this magnificent punk opus on repeat.