In 1991, Caroline Finch (vocals/guitar) and Paul Jones (guitar) met while working in a shop on London's Kings Road. Three years later they began writing and playing together. Finch's friend Dave Nice joined them a few months later on drums. Emma Tornaro, whom the band met at the 1994 Phoenix Festival, joined on bass in February 1995. The name Linoleum was chosen for its sound. But Finch said "We think it suits the band because we're not what we appear to be at first glance. And linoleum is like that."
At the end of 1995, the band signed with management company CMO, who also managed Blur and Elastica. Linoleum set up their own label, Lino Vinyl, for their first release, the 7" only "Dissent/Twisted" recorded in January 1996. Limited to 1,000 copies, the single's sleeve was made from linoleum. It sold out in three days. In July 1996, the second single, "Smear, " was released. "Smear" was limited to 1,500 copies, and it, too, sold out in a matter of days. In 1996, the band signed to DGC Records and recorded their debut album Dissent with producers Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, who had worked with Radiohead and the Pixies, among others.
Linoleum's sound is a juxtaposition of aggression and tranquility. Some songs are angular and unnerving, while others are soothing and atmospheric. Finch's cynical lyrics, delivered in her detached singing style, reflect paranoia, alienation, and disillusionment, which she describes as "the antithesis of the archetypal love song."