is the dark electro-rock project from vocalist and keyboardist Kate Flanigan, whose self-titled debut album was recently self-released. The project started out as just simple demos written and recorded in her bedroom, intended for a solo album after years of playing in different bands and recording for others, and recording as a sought-after session musician. But as the experimental songs started to blossom and come together, it was convincingly clear that a band needed to be formed in order to record and play these special songs live. The band is rounded out by guitarist Matt Russo and the super-tight rhythm section of bassist Mike Calavano and drummer Adam Canute.
The name chosen for the project, Love in War, is the perfect moniker because just like the music that blends the organic with the electronic, it highlights the dualities in life like good and evil. Another example of how life imitates art is that the South Florida based band travelled up to Cleveland during a typically snowy winter to record with producer Michael Seifert, who has also worked with Tori Amos and Fountains Of Wayne among others. The resulting album is filled with radio-ready alt-rock anthems and moody, string-laden trip-hop and industrial rock-inspired electronica.
“It All Means Nothing” opens the album with pounding drums and some gurgling and stuttering electronics before launching into a big, arena-worthy chorus that rivals that of Evanescence and is the perfect introduction to Flanigan’s dynamic voice that possesses a powerful yet bittersweet vulnerability that recalls Tori Amos. “Cold” follows with a head-nodding beat, angry lyrics and a cathartic vocal performance that could be the next anthem for anyone in a bad relationship if given just one play on the radio. Another hit waiting in the wings is “What Does It Mean”, which opens with a fat drum beat that instantly recalls the Led Zeppelin classic, “When The Levee Breaks”, along with some soaring strings and Kate’s gorgeous lilting vocals. Slowing it down a bit, “Safe Distance” features a glitchy two-stepping beat and jabbing keyboards along with swirling and ethereal strings that set the scene for Kate’s breathy vocals on the 80’s inspired synth-pop track. Next, “Earthquake” still stands out even if it sounds a lot like early Portishead, with a DJ scratching on an old Victrola, room-filling piano chords and a haunting, trip-hop atmosphere. “Futility” is highlighted by a propulsive marching drum beat, gusty strings and gang vocals that were recorded in a giant wide open warehouse space.
The single, “Your Gravity”, for which the band has also filmed an official video for, stands out with the not-so-subtle sexiness of the catchy chorus where she pleads “…to feel your gravity”. Kate is in full form with a swagger that is reminiscent of Shirley Manson from mid-90’s favorites, Garbage. Elsewhere, she shows off her beautiful voice and her affinity for classic rock as the band puts their own haunting spin of the Pink Floyd ballad, “Wish You Were Here”, by adding in ominous, heavens-reaching synths and eerie atmospherics. Buzzing effervescent synths and a poppy bass line set the tone for the grandiose chorus of “Stray Bullets”, which incorporates an extended danceable beat to end the song on a high note. The ten track album closes out with the plodding beat and emotionally-charged lyrics of the aptly-titled “It’s All Over”.
With her promising self-titled debut album, Kate Flanigan and her project, Love In War have created a captivating collection of songs that run the range of trippy and haunting electronica to super-charged electro-rock anthems with memorable melodies and interesting instrumentation and arrangements that are ready for the spotlight.
Reviewed by: Justin Kreitzer
Rating: 4 out 5 stars