She Makes War – Brace for Impact (Review)

Finally getting round to sitting down and reviewing this really great album. For people who don’t know, Bristol based, Laura Kidd has her own solo project called She Makes War. Think delicate, angelic vocals over powerful, melancholy grunge ballads, pretty cool huh? She Makes War is FIERCE. With already 3 albums and 2 EPS under her sleeve, “Brace for Impact” is her latest album. Released on the 5th October, it’s already had thousands of streams on Spotify. Also, the album made the official charts, as an independent record, that’s absolutely amazing work. In 6 days time, Laura and her band will be supporting Lonely the Brave for a few dates on their tour, 2019 is already off to a wonderful start for She Makes War. 

Starting off the album is the heavy single that is “Devastate Me.” “This is a song for the heavy-hearted” is the clear entrance to a timeless track. I personally feel that this song is about how time goes past so quickly and it’s a *middle fingers up* song to the listeners to “get your act together, live to the full.” Who knows, that’s just my point of view. Even though it sounds like a strong 90’s alt rock track, it has that refreshing sound of this era with Laura’s British accent making it feel a lot more personal. The powerhouse of the drums (Dan Whitfield) are in your face throughout, implying “there’s no escape, you’ve got to listen to this track.” In conclusion, it really is a big opener for this strong album. 

There’s a sense of insecurity with London Bites” that draws you more and more in. The track begins with quite dark chords and these scary like vocals that sound like lost souls trying to find their bodies. Basically, it’s gloomy as hell. As for the lyrics, it feels like Laura is singing about a past that she struggled with and had not found the strength to talk about. The vulnerability and anxiety lie deeper which makes the song a whole new level of personal. The arrangement of the track is huge, making the anxiety and sense of feeling empty a lot more comforting. It’s a safe haven. It’s a song that shows, it really is ok to not be ok. 

A melodic driven ballad, Strong Enough” sits nicely next to two intense tracks. “Don’t let go darling, we are strong enough” implies maybe a relationship falling apart, but Laura is really persistent to make sure it works. A lot different to the first two tracks, which is always great, the diversity with this track shows that Laura really does have a lot of different approaches to her music. She’s not afraid to experiment and that’s what makes being an audience listener/member so honourable to watch, plus it makes it so much more personal. This piano guided track is covered with heartache and intimate moments for the album. We can all relate to this track in some way or another. 

A heavy start filled with anger is quietly hushed around the 20 second mark to a much quieter approach. Undone” is about coping with the loss of someone and having someone reply “life goes on.” It’s completely natural to mourn someone and with this song, it makes the whole coping process feel a lot more human. Mourning someone leaves us feeling empty, and some of the time, angry. The imagery of this crosses with the track so perfectly. As for the music, everything comes together so well, and the vocal phrasing is memorable to the point that this track will probably be stuck in my head for the next 5 days (I’m not complaining.)

Just before half way through the album sits the captivating “Then the Quiet Came”. I think this could well be my favourite track off the album, the production is beautiful. The track begins with a raw demo of the track played on an acoustic guitar with no effects on Laura’s voice before reaching the main mix. The stripped back beginning makes you sit in your tracks thinking “wait, this is different, I like this.” The lyric “the water washed us clean away” begins the full band arrangement which takes us through a dream alt-pop journey. For a song that really is uplifting, the subject is quite sad. “I picture myself getting older, but it’s not with you” indicates a falling out of love motion happening. I really like the imagery of having this sad topic with some angelic, happy chords over the top. A true sense of independence blooming through the track and another nod to heartache. 

The 80’s has arrived… again. “Fortify” travels us through what feels like a surreal, psychedelic adventure through space. A lot different to the other tracks on the album, this shows another variation to Laura’s music. Fortify means to protect or even strengthen against an attack. The story is never really identified fully, but it does seem that it’s about becoming independent and being happier on your own. At the end of the day, you must always be happy with yourself before entering a relationship. The synth’s remind me of a fiction, video game, maybe this track is fiction and has a hidden meaning? I’m eager to find out the true meaning behind this now…

“Weary Bird” goes back to the alt rock path. Reminding me slightly of what sounds like an Elastica meets Nirvana arrangement, the grunge-esque of the track travels you back to the 90s. This is a track that you’d definitely head bang to live (or in your bedroom.) If you ever do get chance to see She Makes War live, make sure you actually WATCH and don’t go on your phone. You must get the full experience (so I’ve heard). I’m still due to go see/hear. In conclusion, it’s a great song. I personally feel it doesn’t sit as high as the others (not good to compare, I apologise), but it’s still a great contender.

Let Me Down is soft but heavy at the same time (?!) and this dynamically makes the song a lot more stronger. It feels like it lacks a lot of the balls as the other tracks have but it does sit nicely at 8th. Towards the end of the track sits a breakdown of a simple guitar solo, comforting the simple arrangement of the song. Next is a lot more brighter sounding track called “Dear Heart” which introduces Laura singing about a break up while playing a ukulele. A real, beautiful track. It’s somewhat the most confident song on the album. Laura is really being mature with every aspect of the words that she’s singing. It sounds like she was dealing with the break up and has now DEALT with it. Definitely the happiest sounding track on the album, it really is a wonderful piece of music. 

Taking roots back to the 90 alt rock sounding triumph that we’ve heard quite a fair bit on this album is the heavy-hearted “Love This Body.” It deals with self-love. You can tell it’s a big dig to beauty companies and people who think they can simply put on a face and it’ll make them ‘love themselves’. Beauty standards on social media and just everywhere in the world are disheartening for women. It annoys me because people believe that simply painting your face will make you ‘beautiful.’ Grow up. I stand with Laura and honour her for standing up for what she believes in. “Hold On” is an indie fused track that has a bold chorus that really does stand out. It has a sound that reminds me of a strong feeling of someone looking over your shoulder and making sure everything’s ok, in other words, it’s caring and taking care of you through Laura’s journey. 

“Miles Away” doesn’t feel miles away, it’s close and comforting to hear. The orchestral backing is humble and easy listening. The track deals with being abandoned and feeling left out from a close friend. If you’re a 90’s grunge, a soft dream pop ballad, 80’s psychedelic synths kind of person, this album is right up your street. If you’re not, give it a try, it just might surprise you. Before you know it, the mesmerising song comes to an end and so does the album…well, in that case, let’s play it again…

Favourite Tracks: Devastate Me, London Bites, Strong Enough, Undone, Then The Quiet Came, Fortify, Dear Heart, Miles Away

Score: 8/10

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