2000, Music

The Teaches of Peaches (2000)

Remember electroclash? It felt like such a big deal for a couple of years there, but I must say I tried to pay as little attention as possible. I was super into prog rock, and post rock, and I was getting into jazz and “classical”, and I had no taste for minimalist things. And, also, I really didn’t care for music made with primarily electronic instruments. So electroclash was not my thing.

My roommate just loved this record and its sequel and I think that exposure to Peaches, and some of her contemporaries through other friends, also helped push me away from the genre. I do like to buck trends after all, and it felt trendy.

With time, I’ve come to like electronic-based music much more than I used to and I’ve come to realize that trends I bucked at one time were not necessarily terrible. So hopefully I can give this a little more appreciation than I did when my roommate was dancing to it while he cooked.

A lot of people have pointed out how some of the songs here are “underwritten” and I must agree. When Peaches commits to a song, they can be great. But, other times they feel like sketches. I’m not sure that’s entirely her fault if only because the point of electroclash strikes me as underwriting songs to focus on the performance and the aesthetic. Now, someone who manages to write great songs in the aesthetic while performing them compellingly would be beating everyone else at the game, and she does that on some of the tracks. But this record, and the genre as a whole I suspect, would better if they cared more about songs.

It is all about the aesthetic. The advantage Peaches has is that she is unique – a super sexualized woman who plays up gender fluidity – the unshaved legs, the facial hair – at the same time as she gets super explicit about sex. I honestly don’t remember knowing of anyone else like her when this first came out. And I suspect it’s only constant exposure to Kids in the Hall, Monty Python and other gender-bending comedy that kept me from being horrified by her when I was a 19-year-old red-blooded male.

And it’s her, rather than the record, that I think is notable all these years later. As a performer, she’s certainly a trailblazer and was years ahead of her time. She feels far more relevant today than she did to me when this record came out. And she feels more relevant today than most electorclash, at least as far as I know. The aesthetic might have died but gender fluidity sure didn’t.

This would be a better record with more good songs. But it still feels like a bit of a landmark given Peaches’ persona.


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