The Raincoats’ The Raincoats (Bloomsbury, 2017)

In 1979, from the basement of a London squat, the Raincoats reinvented what punk could be. They had a violin player. They came from Portugal, Spain, and England. Their anarchy was poetic. Working with the iconic Rough Trade Records at its radical beginnings, they were the first group of punk women to actively call themselves feminists.

In this short book – the first on the Raincoats – author Jenn Pelly tells the story of the group's audacious debut album, which Kurt Cobain once called “wonderfully classic scripture.” Pelly builds on rare archival materials and extensive interviews with members of the Raincoats, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Hole, Scritti Politti, Gang of Four, and more. She draws formal inspiration from the collage-like The Raincoats itself to explore this album's magic, vulnerability, and strength.


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Select interviews:

→ Bookforum
Pitchfork Live
→ Oyster Magazine
→ NTS Radio
WICN 90.5 FM
→ Vol. 1 Brooklyn


What Critics Are Saying 👀

“One of the strangest and most inspiring of punk rock stories, finally brought into the light. Jenn Pelly's brilliant book is a crucial work of history, not just music history, opening up the story of how four women formed a band and created a legend, passed from fan to fan around the world.”
—Rob Sheffield, author of Love Is a Mixtape and Dreaming the Beatles

“Jenn Pelly’s mini-masterpiece THE RAINCOATS is the first book on this little-known but legendary Rough Trade 1979 band of female individualists... The writing is very visual, within a well-researched historical context emphasizing that all-important freedom to improvise (and embrace randomness and spontaneous inspiration).”
V Vale, RE/Search Publications

“The book is a seamless hybrid of criticism and reportage... what’s extraordinary is that [Pelly] doesn’t seem to be recounting the Raincoats’ early years so much as time-traveling back to the squats of late-’70s London and mind-melding with each of the four very different women who came together to make this strange, enchanting music. Over the years, The Raincoats has become a sort of talisman for feminist punks, a document that is somehow challenging and comforting at once. Pelly doesn’t just describe that effect—her writing recreates it.”
Judy Berman, Pitchfork

“Recent years have seen some excellent additions to the [33 1/3] series... joining this list is Jenn Pelly’s study on The Raincoats’ self-titled debut album... If the album conveys, as she writes, ‘the rare sound of women destroying isolation together,’ her account of it does something similiar.”
Frances Morgan, The Wire

“For anyone who has ever felt delectably off-center upon entering into the Raincoats music, the book is revelatory, showing how da Silva, Birch, violinist Vicky Aspinall and galloping drummer Palmolive crafted their intimate, thrilling, teetering, empowered, messy, heart-bursting music.“
Andy Beta, Vulture

“It is a record that could only be made by women, and although Pelly doesn't labor over this, she does an excellent job of showing its truth... a fine addition to the 33 1/3 canon, dealing with an album that is most worthy of being analyzed even while its very nature escapes any definite conclusions.”
Aug Stone, Under the Radar

“Among all the uncertainty and fucked-upness in the world right now, one of the best things you could do to extricate yourself from misery would be to read Jenn Pelly’s essential book about The Raincoats’ first album.“
Rebekah Kirkman, Baltimore Beat

“Pelly's writing is a pitch-perfect blend of academic references and a genuine fan's adoration that raises both the band and their debut record to a status they very much deserve but haven't received until now.”
—Hannah Vettese, Record Collector

“Pitchfork editor Jenn Pelly wrote a standout addition to Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series that focuses on the band’s self-titled 1979 album that reaches far beyond the music into what the album signifies nearly 40 years later. It’s a read you will fly through, even if the first time you’re hearing this band’s name is right now—really.“
Nina Corcoran, DigBoston

“It’s been awhile since there was a 33 ⅓ that really wowed people... [The Raincoats] is an unusual story that hadn't really been told before, and Pelly's writing deftly captures the history and the mood.”
Leah Mandel, The Fader