The pantheon of great sleazy sex records includes the depraved minimalist funk of Prince’s Dirty Mind and the squalid bedroom drama of Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzi Bougatsos and Growing’s Sadie Laska make a bold attempt at joining such lurid company with The Proper Sex, their first album as I.U.D. It’s a witty, spooky and abrasive record that mixes spacious dubby beats with the noise assault of the Melvins and Unsane.
Bougatsos and Laska open with the shrill metallic percussion of “Daddy.” The heliumized Kate Bush vocals will be familiar to Gang Gang Dance fans, although this music is brutally tribalistic, with less of the glazed pop of Saint Dymphna and more of the infinite space of God’s Money. The second track, “Glo Balls,” is fueled by a murderous vocal reminiscent of Whitehouse’s William Bennett or just about anyone signed to Amphetamine Reptile in the early ‘90s. It’s propelled by some jarring no-wave primitivism that sounds wonderfully debauched, variously recalling Suicide, “11,000 Volts” by Mars and the willful antagonism of early Swans.
If “Daddy” and “Glo Balls” are the foreplay, then “Monk Hummer” is an introduction to the level of degradation at which I.U.D. operates. It’s a mish-mash of porn-film inspired samples and a sludgy stop-start rhythm reminiscent of Coil and the incidental music from ‘70s splatter movies. “Monk Hummer” induces the same kind of dizzy disorientation that occurs when you unexpectedly emerge into bright sunlight from a darkened movie theater. It’s a woozy, drunken and scrappily distended track that leads into the full-on intercourse of “911” and “Mary Unmargaret.”
By this point, Bougatsos and Laska are flooding The Proper Sex with sound, abrasively adjoining coarse musical dissonance with Brian Chippendale-style grunts and lyrics like, “Someone please call the doctor/ I’ve been shot through the heart.” When they get to the album’s finale, “Girls Just Wanna (Time to Have Sex),” they’re touching you in ways that don’t feel comfortable at all. Joined by Rites of Spring guitarist Mike Fellows, the threesome produce the aural equivalent of having some large household appliances shoved into several orifices, all at the same time.
Bougatsos and Laska clearly have impeccable taste, as witnessed by the album’s cover, which pays warm homage to Sparks’ classic Big Beat. That said, The Proper Sex isn’t going to be much of a turn on for Gang Gang Dance fans enamored by the squelchy acid rhythms of Saint Dymphna. But it is a welcome blast of pungent discord, driven by a lurid sexuality that feels both filthy and funny. And they could definitely pull Prince out of his creative stupor by letting him produce the next I.U.D. album.