This is another bellwether 45 in my teenage musical education, and for a long time I felt like it was a record that only I knew about. While THE MO-DETTES’ 1980 “White Mice” single is fairly well-known now, I’d never met anyone in the 80s who’d heard it besides me and others who heard it played to death on KFJC in the early 1980s. It reached some ears when it came out on one of those Bomp Power Pop compilation CDs about 15 years ago; and when I saw the LONG BLONDES play live a few years ago I was floored when the between-band DJ played the song and people got up to dance to it en masse, like it was one of their well-known favorites. Who knows, in the UK this may have been a touchstone 45 for thousands of quote-unquote post-punk lovers, as it was for me.
“White Mice” arrives at the perfect intersection of rough English D.I.Y. and pure golden girl pop, and has one of the most lilting harmonies you’ll ever hear. Among the more charming aspects of the band were the garbled vocals of Ramona Carlier, she being of Swiss descent and a then-recent UK immigrant (which helps explains it). It’s hard to put a bead on exactly what she’s saying beyond the song’s chorus, which starts with the first-rate couplet, “Don’t be stupid, don’t be limp / No girl likes to love a wimp”, and contains a throbbing bassline that leads, rather than follows, everything else in the song. The guitarist is practically invisible throughout – her ineptitude in moving from chord to chord is part of what’s so special about “White Mice” and indeed, the small handful of other good tracks this band produced in their short life (like the B-side, “Masochistic Opposite”).
I also love the sleeve for this single, which is so awful I could have doodled it during a particularly boring Powerpoint presentation. Glad the single has reached so many ears the past couple of decades – I’d like to bring it to another 200 or so ears if I may.
Play The Mo-Dettes, “White Mice”
Download THE MO-DETTES – “White Mice” (A-side)
Download THE MO-DETTES – “Masochistic Opposite” (B-side)