I had the interesting juxtaposition of buying this album and seeing SK live for the first time within the same week. (It's lonely being a SK fan in Australia. Hardly anyone's heard of them, and their early albums are near impossible to find.) Anyway, while their live show was amazing, I was struck by that strange sense of displacement experienced by any obsessed fan at a concert - the band that seemed to exist solely to nurse your adolescent anguish in your bedroom are suddenly on a stage, unreachable, impersonal, and, well, glamorous. SK have become more palatable over the years - now they're more sophisticated, more stylish, more self-assured, and less politically extreme. Thankfully, they've managed to make that inevitable transition while still making compelling art - One Beat is a fantastic record. Still, something is lost in that forward-motion (not that same thing as selling out, mind you), and it's here in all its glory on this self-titled debut. On this record, and on Call the Doctor, SK were blessed with a wonderful lack of self-consciousness (the very thing that mars the uninspired All Hands On The Bad One.) This record is raw, immediate, direct, and naked. Sure, it's crude sometimes, and flawed, and brief, but it's impossible to question the sincerity, even if you don't like the politics, and while the militant feminism, bloodcurdling screams, and guitars that seem to simulate a monotone of dread are probably enough to alienate 99% of the human population, I'll love SK forever for having had the guts to make it. They seem like an entirely different band now, which leaves me with a sense of ambivalence: I'm glad they're becoming a real force to be reckoned with, that they're shiny and elegant and all grown up, that they're moving beyond their marginal status and seem more at peace with themselves and with men. But I think, deep down, I like my heroines a bit scrappier, a bit more unsure of themselves, a bit more messed up. Sometimes I think SK's flaws were their very virtues, and I worry that the more polished they become, the less powerful they are.