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The Delta 5: Singles and Sessions: 1979-1981


The Delta 5: Singles and Sessions: 1979-1981

Label:Kill Rock Stars
Format:Album
Media:CD
Release Date:2006
Genre:Rock/Pop

By Jess Harvell | Posted 2/1/2006

A mixed-gender gang of five from Leeds, England, the Delta 5 heard funk as playground chants and punk as a reason for living, with two basses that didn’t really make the flatfooted, sarcastic vamps any funkier. The guitars pecked furiously, and the voices dared you to look them in the eye without breaking down into giggles—which is not so say the Delta 5 wasn’t also deadly serious. Like their peers the Au Pairs, they starved funk to better make room for abjection, oppression, and the sticky side of sex.

The newly compiled Singles and Sessions: 1979-1981 isn’t complete or completely essential. But it does contain “Mind Your Own Business,” one of the all-time great singles—punk, female, or otherwise—a recess taunt masquerading as a hook masquerading as an interrogation. On “You,” they confront a selfish lover—“Who likes sex only on Sundays?/ You, you, you!” The Delta 5 saw the personal and the mundane as being as ripe for deconstruction as the usual bullshit like art theory or Marxism. The deadpan “harmonies” critique “Make Up”—“Do you wear it?/ Does it wear you?”—like double Dutch meets academic feminism.

The members of Love Is All were fresh out of the womb when the Delta 5 formed, but you’d never know it listening to 9 Times the Same Song. These five adorable Swedes look and sound like they mysteriously washed up on the Thames in 1979 and started playing gigs a day later; they’ve even got the cheesy saxophone. Like the other releases on What’s Your Rupture?, the production on 9 Times is lost in reverb, the instruments arguing over placement in the mix.

Singer Josephine Olausson has the bratty delivery and irrepressible exuberance of her idols down pat, swigging coffee for hours before taking the stage. But her nervous energy isn’t always joyful: “things aren’t going so well”; “I think I’ll stay in bed all day”; “hey world, I’ve had enough!” Like the atypical girls in the Delta 5, Olausson knows there’s liberation in fucking up—or when you just don’t feel like trying at all—in a world where women always have to be “on.” Meanwhile, the band plays disco beats like trying to round-hole a square peg, phlegmatic synths cough in sympathy, and the guitars continually break down only to make up again.

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