Personnel: Lesley Woods, Paul Foad (vocals, guitar); Peter Hammond (drums).
Liner Note Author: Tim Peacock.
Recording information: Jacob's Studios (04/1981).
Opening with the tongue-in-cheek "We're So Cool," the Au Pairs' debut record is a stunner, from Lesley Woods' scratchy guitar and declamatory vocals to lead guitarist Paul Foad's brittle soloing. This is an uncompromising, defiant record: gender roles are turned upside down, as are theories about sex and sexuality, and hetero- and homosexual relationships are put under a microscope. Similarly, the tense political situation in Northern Ireland is harrowingly addressed in "Armagh," which details Tory-sanctioned torture and sexual abuse of wrongly imprisoned Irish women. An unflinching look at the world, Playing with a Different Sex is one of the great, and perhaps forgotten, post-punk records. ~ John Dougan