Planet, the debut LP from Seattle band Love and Fury, marks a fertile collaboration between two of Seattle’s legit rock veterans. It’s smart but primal, wise but rawly emotional—powerful testimony that a band of functioning grownups can craft riveting, beautiful noise with the best of them.
Love and Fury is the fruit of a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Gary King and singer/guitarist/keyboardist Gretta Harley. Both are longtime scene vets. Harley cut her teeth in Seattle’s halcyon ‘90s heyday as guitarist and singer for PNW rock band Maxi Badd (later Danger Gens), co-wrote the hit musical These Streets with Sarah Rudinoff and Elizabeth Kenny, co-founded Home Alive, and served on the faculty of Cornish College for the Arts. King is a production stalwart who’s worked on records by Soundgarden, Hater, and Gruntruck. He’s run thriving recording studio House of Leisure for several years.
On the face of it, Planet largely skews to the template of a traditional rock record. Harley steps back from the instrumentation (save some percussion), fronts the band as lead singer, and contributes lyrics. King, composer of the songs, lays down oft-heavy, guitar-based melodies.
Anyone who listens to rock knows it’s not just the chords you shuffle and reorder: It’s what you do with them. King’s riffs oscillate pretty consistently between end-of-days power (the opener, “Scorpio”) and warbling psychedelic texture (“Kali”), but he’s a nimble songwriter whose compositions cast a wide net stylistically. “Ling” is a drama-infused, gothic piano ballad, while “Alchemy” throws down a forceful, slingshot bass and some near-U2 anthemic soaring. Like all the best rock records, Planet manages to be a consistent sum of its parts without sounding like ten iterations of the same song.
King’s found a perfect collaborator in Harley. She lends a keen melodic sense to her singing. Her work as a solo composer on her fine solo song cycle Element 115 Uup, and her musical theater work both come into play here. Harley’s distinctive voice weds with King’s compositions famously: Think Patti Smith’s ragged poetry and SIouxsie Sioux’s dark melodrama, channeled by an angelic Broadway singer, and you’re somewhere in the ballpark.
Consistency is one of Planet’s strong suits, but two tracks emerge at the forefront (from this corner, at least). The aforementioned “Ling” sounds like some great Diamond Dogs outtake, with Harley’s voice waxing enigmatic yet poignant and Kultur Shock’s Amy Denio contributing a serpentine sax solo. “Penance,” meantime, closes out Planet in epic fashion. King’s dive-bombing guitar segues into crushing caveman riffage as Harley intones like an angry priestess in a glorious storm.
Harley’s words deliver a potent condemnation of sexism and hypocrisy in poetic yet forceful fashion. “Unearth the lies, then face them down/expose you to the sirens/we’ll crowd you out, we’ll drown you out,” she sings. You won’t find a better example of the polar extremes of the band’s name being wrought in vivid, thrilling fashion.
Love and Fury celebrate the release of Planet with a record release party tomorrow night February 23 at The Royal Room in Columbia City. Tickets available here.