I am having a hard time thinking of this band as something more than “not the Raincoats” or “lesser Raincoats”. And that’s utterly ridiculous. A quick google will demonstrate that this album came out two months before the Raincoats’ debut album. And it’s not either band’s fault that I have listened to multiple Raincoats albums before ever hearing the Slits. Moreover, from what I can tell, the Slits existed well before the Raincoats did. So judging this album by recordings of another band that came after them is utterly ridiculous. So I’m going to try not to.
There is a serious reggae vibe I was not expecting. Not because reggae wasn’t everywhere in the UK at the time, but because I just hadn’t imagined a band like this playing reggae. It helps to seriously differentiate them from the other post punk bands, given how fully to commit to it at times.
And if you will pardon another Raincoats comparison; one these these girls are is way, way more professional than the Raincoats. Though a lot of people find this music primitive and raw, it’s extremely professional compared to that other band. That’s not to say it’s virtuosic or anything, but this band definitely has that punk “competence” where they are clearly not that good at playing, but they are good enough and, more importantly, their relative amateurism leads them to make music in ways that are unconventional and appealing.
Once I got over my initial “not the Raincoats” shock I came to really like this. It’s in this unique place where it’s far too reggae to be punk but it’s too strange and arty to be reggae, and it deviates from the reggae sound too often anyways. The Slits don’t sound like any other reggae band and they don’t sound like any other post punk band. They have their own distinct sound – one that not too many people followed, as far as I know.
It’s pretty great stuff.