So, let’s run through the numbers. Why are we looking at this album cover today?
1. The name of this project is I.U.D., as in intrauterine device, as in that t-boned thing installed in women and girls for contraceptive purposes that I don’t want to judge you if you use it, but keep it far the fuck away from me.
2. The duo is comprised of the (shirtless) Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance and Sadie Laska of Growing. Female duo making “songs” out of sampled audio from porn, guitar noise, and monstrous vocals that only sometimes form into tunes. Pitchfork’s Mike Powell may have a problem with the lack of clear melodies, but I don’t. Perhaps the configuration is toward feminist ends? Their label’s press release does suggest you serve the record “chilled at a party hosted by hyper-feminist vampires.” Happy Halloween.
3. The name of the album is called The Proper Sex. Brings to mind Au Pairs’ seminal debut, Playing With a Different Sex?
4. Track titles include: “Daddy,” “Glo Balls,” and “Girls Just Wanna (Time to Have Sex).”
And then there’s Richard Kern’s cover, which brings up a whole different set of issues:
1. Are these girls just in a band together? Is being in a band more intimate than being conventionally romantically coupled?
2. Likewise, is it so simple to cast topless Lizzi as feminine and Sadie as masculine in her button-down and tie? How about when you consider it alongside Sparks’ Big Beat?
3. What’s with the scarring on Lizzi’s stomach?
And while the press release sites Sparks, it’s hard for me not to conjure images of Patti Smith’s Horses. And the sleeve art is pure Linder Sterling. In fact, I think she’d be pleased with the sound and intent as well.
Now, I don’t want to overreach the album’s feminist aims (especially since Laska seems to conflate feminism with post-feminism). Nor do I want to bring up a band and then dismiss their problematic use of terms like “tribalism” or “Ghetto Sperm” (an I.U.D. song title) — indeed, impossible to bring up potentially dicey racial politics without getting into Bougatsos’s other band, Gang Gang Dance, who dabble in a sort of pan-Mediterranean/Middle Eastern “mysticism” (though I’m assuming, based on her surname, that Bougatsos is of Greek descent). But I do want to offer up this musical act, and its use of style and sound, as it shouldn’t be ignored in 2009.