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Flood Plain

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Album Review

After Dovetail's generally calmer approach, Flood Plain fires up the energy more readily at points, as Lester and Smith again demonstrate just how powerful their partnership can be. The opening "Ribbon" is a scorcher, Lester's steady chug subtly shaded throughout by the appearance of lower tones and sudden, nervous explosions. Smith's focused delivery, especially on the line "You're marked," brings a powerful intensity to it all. That said, on Flood Plain there's certainly much of the reflective calm that Dovetail provided, though Smith's lyrics here have more of an explicit bite. "A Kind of a Girl" is especially striking, tackling female stereotyping in relationships from a male point of view in cryptic but not obtuse ways, leaving an unsettled edge at the song's conclusion. Throughout the album as a whole, though Smith's vocals once or twice get particularly harsh, the duo creates another inspired set of songs in their own unique fashion. "Nobody's Asking," which features one of the best vocal overdubs the band has yet done, Smith's two takes weaving around each other just so over Lester's brisk lead, is a hands-down highlight. Another, "Straying to Summer," features Lester every so often just about to play the Rolling Stones "Paint It, Black" but never quite doing so, an intriguing little tease. To top it all off, anyone who insists on viewing Mecca Normal strictly as, say, a caricatured anti-men stance needs to give an ear to songs like "Museum Of Open Windows" or especially "Waiting For Rudy." Taking the scenario of an elderly man and the female landlord counting the days until he passes on so she can tear down the building, the critique is explicitly economic and social, a deft portrait delivered in a few strokes. Lester's playing is both in-your-face and suddenly melancholic, the perfect balance for the song.


Formed: 1981 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A seminal influence on Northwestern indie rock (and especially on the riot grrl movement), Vancouver's Mecca Normal was the bridge between female post-punk primitives like the Raincoats and the Slits -- not to mention Patti Smith's punk poetry -- and the more explicitly political, feminist noisemakers of the '90s. Lo-fi, amateurish, and decidedly minimalist, Mecca Normal was essentially a duo, with occasional studio help; vocalist Jean Smith (also a poet, novelist, and painter) declaimed her stream-of-consciousness,...
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Flood Plain, Mecca Normal
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