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 that asks no quarter; gender roles are turned upside down, hetero- and homosexual relationships put under a microscope, and theories about sex and sexuality turned upside down. 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 unfliching look at the world, Playing with a Different Sex is one of the great, and perhaps forgotten, post-punk records. The CD reissue on RPM adds eight significant bonus cuts from 1979-81 singles, which include different versions of tracks from the album and some songs which didn’t make it onto the LP in any form.
-John Dougan, allmusic.com
Au Pairs-PLAYING WITH A DIFFERENT SEX (1981)