London-based indie rockers Linoleum managed two albums, beginning with 1997's Dissent, and, unfortunately, it couldn't manage to weather the (mostly negative) comparisons to Elastica that crept up in the first paragraph of each review. This is a real shame, because Linoleum not only formed years before Justine Frischmann's group did, they shared little other than a mixed-gender lineup and an interest in sexual politics with their better-known compatriots. Lazy reviewers might have more profitably compared Linoleum to '80s avant-funk feminists the Au Pairs or, most especially, turn of the '90s Liverpool shoegazers the Heart Throbs. Like the Heart Throbs, Linoleum drape their intelligent, often cutting lyrics in a miasmic haze of heavily processed guitars and keyboards. Lead singer/lyricist Caroline Finch's attractive, conversational voice is usually mixed well back, only coming forward on the choruses, where it's supported by bassist Emma Tornero's breathy harmonies. Finch and guitarist Paul Jones put atmosphere in front of melody, which is only a flaw on the few songs where the atmospherics aren't terribly engaging, but the best songs are those which combine the atmosphere with a memorable chorus or vocal melody. The album's high point is the clattering "Dangerous Shoes," which has the best chorus of the lot, though both "Marquis" and the atypically poppy "On a Tuesday" (which reappears in French as an unlisted bonus track at the end) are nearly its equal. Though a critical and commercial disappointment at the time, Dissent is the sort of album that bears rediscovery.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason