The Raincoats were one of the most experimental bands that immediately followed the initial burst of punk rock in the late ’70s. With their minimalistic approach to guitar-driven folk-rock, the band developed a distinctive, jagged sound, punctuated by a shrill violin. The Raincoats were also one of the first all-female post-punk bands, which wasn’t common in the late ’70s and early ’80s. When they were recording, the band gained a small cult following in their native England and an even smaller audience in America; they broke up in 1984. Nearly ten years later, the band became a hip name in alternative rock, thanks to Kurt Cobain’s mention of the group in the liner notes to a Nirvana album. Geffen picked up the rights to the Raincoats’ catalog and reissued their albums in late 1993 and 1994. The band reunited and toured with Nirvana in the U.K. before heading out on their own tour of the U.S. in 1994. Two years later, the Raincoats released Looking in the Shadows, which was produced by Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley.
Picking the “best” Raincoats is more an intellectual exercise than it is a work of thoughtful criticism. So, to make it easy for the benighted, all three studio releases are absolutely essential. Their live cassette is wonderful, but not the ideal entry point. Better yet, start with their debut, a soaring, daring, avant-garde-influenced folk-punk record. Don’t let the words “avant-garde” scare you off; the Raincoats are not harsh or unapproachable. In fact, this music, even at its most dissonant, is stunning and captivating. There’s a great cover of the Kinks’ “Lola” that’s so skewed and obtuse, Ray Davies probably never dreamed it could sound this way.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com