It’s been a long time coming but Laura Kidd’s debut is worth the wait, if just for the fact that it sounds like nothing else you’ll hear all year. Under the moniker She Makes War, the former Tricky and I Blame Coco tour bassist has indiscriminately pooled her inspirations and unearthed her inner angst-ridden riot grrrl.
She cites those inspirations as Sleater Kinney, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins and Carina Round. Throw in Kathleen Hanna, PJ Harvey, Warpaint and Shirley Manson and you’re just about there.
It gets off to a cracking start, with the record’s best song, Scared to Capsize. A carefully strummed ukulele introduces Kidd’s fragile yet venomous voice as she purrs, rather menacingly: “Wasn’t that what you said, Wasn’t that you meant to say, With three little words you lied, I don’t think you realise.” Its pained and dripping in anger, but at the same time gentle and soothing. It sets the tone for a tempestuous 14 tracks.
It ends as abruptly as it started, switching gear for A-Hole, which nods towards her Olympia idols, using the cut-and-paste, DIY punk approach channelled by Kathleen Hanna for her lo-fi solo album as Julie Ruin. This is a completely solo album, a one woman show; Kidd wrote, produced and recorded it, and then went on to create the artwork and videos. At times, as this, it feels incredibly lonely. It lacks the depth and gloss which a band might give, and sometimes that’s a strength; Scared To Capsize and No Fireworks (“I can’t write happy songs, But I feel safe sometimes…”) wouldn’t be the tearjerkers they are with layers of guitar and pianos, but sometimes it’s just a bit cold.
Eye Spy bends the mood again. With rolling piano, it’s a bar room sing-along with a slightly ethereal, kooky edge, which makes Let This Be, a dark, bitter, gothic track all the more startling.
Again, Get Milk, goes down a completely different vein. Punky, distorted, Garbage-esque vocals over a sleazy, bassy dance track that couldn’t be more different from that playing seconds before. Olympian shows off yet another side of the increasingly schizophrenic Kidd, with a crackling intro and honey-sweet vocals, shedding the defensive aggression we’ve been dealt until now, instead telling a tale of regret: “Clouds collide, falling, melting into blue, I deny feeling anything for you, You were the best thing I turned my back on.”
There are other songs – (Love) Like Liars and GhostAndShadows – that go too far down the angst-ridden grrrl route and sound like teh musings of a PJ Harvey obsessed sixth former, but on the whole it’s a great album that combines the most exciting elements of the post-grunge grrrl scene. That it doesn’t blend together comfortably or easily is the best thing about it; she’s not sure who she is… and we don’t want to know either yet.