Disarm is the first independent, full-length release by She Makes War, a.k.a. Laura Kidd; multi-instrumentalist, session musician, and some-times singer of The Young Punx. Purveyor of grungy, lo-fi indie, She Makes War’s style of self-proclaimed “gloom-pop” tackles the disappointments of everyday life in a typically matter of fact fashion, revealing and discussing life’s negativities in a way that is solidly influenced by the 1990s grunge scene. Fusing Seattle’s style of nihilistic despondency with the aggressive yet girlish styling’s of the likes of Riot Grrrl bands, She Makes War creates guitar centric music with slices of post-modern synthetic sounds and feminine vulnerability.
Vocally, Kidd provides a variety of styles, typically layered in a manner that demonstrates well her vocal diversity and range, often creating an appealing tapestry of timbres and textures. Tracks such as Ghostsandshadows and (Love) Like Liars demonstrate particularly well how great her vocal work can be, and additionally, through these more sparse tracks Kidd often creates space for more instrumentally adventurous, dynamic fare. Lyrically too her work is good; at times there are flashes of excellence. For me though some of the tracks were a bit obvious in terms of subject matter. NIMN (Not in My Name), for example, felt like an obvious subject for aggression, addressed in an obviously aggressive way. I also grew tired of the general dystopian attitude of the lyrics at times.
Kidd is also a very talented guitarist; and can command her axe in a variety of ways; from slow, purged crunches to delicate acoustic melodies. Indeed, she is a good all round musician generally, and it must be said that Disarm is a competently composed, arranged and executed album. There are times when she creates an enjoyably diverse and interesting soundscape, although ultimately the softer, more subdued tracks are of superior quality. However, the strength of her influences is beyond tangible, and so rooted to the 1990s that it has saturated every aspect of this album, from guitar timbres to lyrical content, in a way that for me isn’t ultimately positive. Just a small twist away from the 90s towards more modern aspects of her music (such as her usage of certain synth timbres and cleaner vocal production) would turn Disarm from a good album into a great album.
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