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She Makes War - Disarm

She Makes War, Disarm

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE debut album from Laura Kidd – aka She Makes War – is a mostly impressive affair that marks her out as a significant talent to watch.

Entitled Disarm, it’s a collection of 13 songs of love, loss, crap mates, betrayal, homicide and genocide that takes its cues from the likes of Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey.

But everything on the album comes from Kidd, who wrote, recorded and produced the songs, designed the artwork, made the accompanying videos and performed mostly without a backing band.

It makes the often expansive instrumentation all the more noteable… but then Kidd clearly enjoys being alone with her Telecaster and looping pedal to create a monster sound when she deems necessary.

Vocally, too, she enjoys mixing things up, occasionally dropping some raw, punk-inflicted offerings that are sure to draw comparisons with PJ Harvey or Shirley Manson, as well as some more tender, harmonious ones that lend some songs a more pop feel.

And while not every song hits first time out, there’s enough highlights here to make the album worth recommending as a whole.

Album opener Scared To Capsize, for instance, opens with an appealing ukulele intro and an angst-ridden vocal, before eventually drawing in some guitars and a strong chorus. It’s indicative of Kidd’s questioning style that, lyrically, the song poses plenty of them (“what took you so long?/”wasn’t I what you meant to say?”).

A-Hole boasts a grungy feel to compliment its assertive lyrics, while there’s a gutsy punk-rock vibe befitting the Pixies on No Fireworks, which talks of planes coming out of the sky amid a belting chorus that declares: “There’s no fireworks for us this year.” It’s during this song, as well, that Kidd almost apologises for her style, declaring: “I can’t write happy songs.” But that doesn’t matter, given the overall quality.

Elsewhere, Slow Puncture weaves a lazy, almost bluesy bath to a strung out chorus, Nimn combines a telling central riff with some enhanced drum loops and electronics to deliver the album’s most atmospheric moment, and Eye Spy declares “isn’t it fun to be free” over a kooky piano arrangement and some background harmonising, all the while highlighting certain social hypocrisies.

The PJ Harvey vibe returns with the riff-laden Let This Be and Got Milk (the latter of which marks a Garbage-styled highlight), while I Am and final track [Love] Like Liars change the tempo, strip things back and employ a bittersweet vocal with yet more provocative lyricism.

Like we said, though, whether upping the tempo or stripping things back, She Makes War offers a consistently compelling reason to keep listening.

Download picks: Scared To Capsize, No Fireworks, I Am, Got Milk, [Love] Like Liars, Eye Spy, Nimn

Track listing:

  1. Scared To Capsize
  2. A-Hole
  3. No Fireworks
  4. Slow Puncture
  5. NIMN
  6. Olympian
  7. Eye Spy
  8. Let This Be
  9. Got Milk
  10. I Am
  11. Chicken
  12. Ghostsandshadows
  13. [Love] Like Liars