Armed Love is the (International) Noise Conspiracy's step into the big time, boasting an expansive Rick Rubin production and cameos from Billy Preston and Benmont Tench (made necessary by the departure of organist Sara Almgren). The indie purist can't help but fear that the sky has fallen, and while it does seem a long way from their Swedish hardcore roots to working with the wrong kind of Heartbreaker, once you get over the slightly glossier surface, Armed Love is still a great rock & roll record with a revolutionary bent, much like their previous work. They have written catchier songs this time out, whether by coincidence or thanks to the setting, which makes it slightly easier to get with the program than in the past. And as "Let's Make History," "Communist Moon," and "Like a Landslide" make clear, their program is still somewhere to the left of Che Guevara, only this time they let a little love ("The Way I Feel About You") and music ("Armed Love") creep into the equation. Of course you could just let the words wash over you and dig the hip-shaking pop-punk with soul sound they crank out with even more precision and focus than before. Indeed, Rubin's production gives the guitars some room to breathe and lets the drums and bass propel the music ahead like a dancefloor-seeking missile. Check the fiery "Black Mask" or the almost bouncy "The Dream Is Over" for examples of their newfound looseness and ease of motion. In fact, the only time you really feel you are listening to a major-league rock record is on "All in All," which sounds uncomfortably close to a '60s pastiche (Traffic, Stones) and too much like Lenny Kravitz, and is really the only time that the guest keyboards get in the way. That's just one song though; the rest of the album is tight, tough, and exciting rock music perfect for your next Young Socialist Club dance party.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra