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Planningtorock “All Love’s Legal” – Album Review

Human Level (2014)

Renowned for her prosthetic face mask, androgynous vocals and themes of gender inequality, Berlin-based UK producer Planningtorock is perhaps understandably often compared to Lady Gaga. But unlike her superstar peer, whose ordinary EDM-pop sits at odds with the extraordinary way in which she hypes it up, Jam Rostron and her alter-ego’s third studio effort, All Love’s Legal, is as wonderfully strange as her image.

Released through her own Human Level imprint, the follow-up to 2011’s W is in fact exactly the kind of record you’d have expected ARTPOP to sound like from Gaga’s “reverse Warholian expedition” promo spiel, imbuing everything from New York disco to 80s synth-pop to avant-garde electronica with a warped sense of style that’s as hypnotic as it is peculiar.

Lead single “Human Drama” is a bewitching blend of plucked pizzicato strings, Vangelis-esque synths and finger-snapping rhythms whose shape-shifting production cleverly matches its “fluidity of sexuality” subject matter. The disjointed beats and persistent synth-brass hooks of “Public Love” recalls the frenzied intensity of previous collaborators The Knife,  while “All Love’s Legal,” which pushes Planningtorock’s “degenderized” vocals to the forefront, sounds like a long lost Depeche Mode classic given a chamber pop makeover.

Occasionally, the weirdness gets a little much. “Misogyny Drops Dead” begins with a neat funky bassline but quickly descends into a slightly discordant blend of caterwauling and twisted classic house loops. Elsewhere, “Purple Love,” one of three brief interludes included on All Love’s Legal, is little more than a deranged ramble played over a spooky wind sound effect.

But overall, Planningtorock gets the balance between the challenging and the listenable just about right on a record which makes Gaga and her pretentious grandstanding claims appear even more foolish.

 

3.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music


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