For those of you unfamiliar with the delights of Victor Love: no, this isn’t some 1950s B-Movie hero. Love, in fact, heads up Italian Electro-Industrialists Dope Stars Inc, and The Network EP (Self-Released/Independent) is a rare solo outing.
It’s an edgy if often thin sound: opener ‘Doom Trap’ is punchy and sinister, but heavy on the synth work which occasionally comes across as a forlorn clavichord. It’s easy to level accusations of 80s Pop toward this but in truth there’s far more drama: ‘…Trap’s roared choruses possess the breezy airs of Babylon Zoo, but strangely succeed in thickening the atmosphere rather than lifting it. There’s a cheesiness to the ensuing ‘Machine Gun’ despite the subtle clashing and grinding which underpins the confrontational refrain; the almost onomatopoeic delivery and horrendous, Bontempi-style preamble grating somewhat. There is, however, cold steel in the near-antagonistic focal points, and an icy chill to the initially sparing keys of closer ‘Net Reality’: the standout track, displaying tragedy through the lush high points which falls somewhere between a balladic Marilyn Manson and an Electronica-laden Placebo. Here Love’s voice is spiked yet melodic, the frisson created by those icicle-drop keys evoking the seedy desolation of a dark backstreet in 30s Berlin.
It’s debatable how potent a full album of this occasionally brittle yet bitter Cyber-Punk style could be. The Network is eminently listenable nevertheless, and possesses enough sharp teeth to pique the emotions.