Posted on October 1, 2012 AT 03:00pm
The recent popularity of indie rockers Hunter Valentine is well-waranted. After two solid albums (one of which, Lessons From The Late Night, was one of the first great female-fronted rock albums of the decade) the newly-dubbed quartet managed to garner plenty of fame for their famous (or infamous) antics on the reality show The Real L Word. Now that the season is over, it’s time for fans new and old to be reminded why a band such as this needs to exist on this planet. Collide and Conquer, their third album, does just that.
Collide and Conquer combines the two strongest elements of their previous albums: the heart of Impatient Romantic and the anarchistic mindset of Lessons From The Late Night. It starts off not with a skip & a hop, but rather a spring & a pounce with “Liar Liar,” a rousing middle finger to the betrayers. Lead vocalist/guitarist Kiyomi screams “I keep my mind straight over you,” and you can bet she has a sinister plan in store for the fibbers of the world. Newcomer Somer Bingham’s keyboarding during the music break adds a more espionage feel to the song, as if the plot in question will leave a trail a blood back to them.
The songs in general blend together in a sort of yin-yang formation, as one side shows off the badass persona of the band, whereas the other side peeks behind the curtain and reveals a more tender side of the group. In one instance the band goes to arena rock lengths in “The Pulse,” where a woman looks at her partner in the future and feels like the whole relationship has been made up in the lies; within a flash “Crying” comes around to wrap you in its arms to comfort you. There’s also a lustful chase in “Priscilla,” which plays like a spin-off of their 2010 song “Revenge”. The chorus of “She’s loving the midnight life” hints at the title character’s main occupation, one that is quite familiar to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, although she comes off more sympathetic than any Roxanne or Mama. New bassist Vero Sanchez turns up the grittiness here, adding an extra growl to the band’s attitude.
“Little Curse (shit happens)” is just the type of track that may put Hunter Valentine on the map. Laura Petracca’s slams at her drum kit like a Formula One race car in top gear, and Kiyomi screams in such a way that makes everyone in the vicinity cower in fear and fall in love with her all at once. It’s also the song with the most simple of premises, but one that everyone can relate to: shit happens when relationships go south, and it’s best to move out of the way before it goes nuclear!
Every hard rock album needs a love ballad of sorts, whether fans like it or not. Here it appears in the closer “The Great Canadian Love Song.” (You can just envision the band members snickering as they decided on that title.) Yes, it comes off a tad corny, and the lyrics are more akin to Jim Croce than Joan Jett, but you can feel the sincerity in Kiyomi’s voice in this track as she sings “I wish I can make you happy”; it’s as if you can hear her starting to blush while admitting her heart’s true desires. If there’s one thing the song does well, it’s reveal that even rock stars can be shy about saying those three little words.
Is Collide and Conquer as big of a knockout punch as Hunter Valentine’s last foray? Not quite, but it has plenty of rage and solidarity to go around for everyone to either jump around to or rest their head upon their lover’s shoulder. If there’s ever a time to jump onto the band wagon, it’s now.
**** (out of five)
Collide and Conquer will be available on October 23, distributed by Megaforce Records. A review copy was provided by Reybee PR and ILDK Media.
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