Love Army, the third LP from Melbourne trio Dallas Frasca, has been a long time coming, but it has certainly been worth the wait, with a blistering set of well-crafted rock songs that should see this sit as one of the standout albums of the year.

The band have a reputation for their powerful, spirited live shows; translating this trademark energy onto a recording must have been quite a challenge, but Love Army does the job with aplomb. As expected, riff-rock and high energy blues dominate the album, but there is light and shade here, and the strength of the LP is found in its moments of variation, where the beautiful power of front-woman Dallas Frasca’s voice is exhibited.

LOVE-ARMY-high-res-NO-WARNING-STICKERThe album grabs you from the opening riff of “Success is the Best Revenge” with its stomping rhythm and catchy chorus, and it never lets you go.

Released as a single last year (along with a controversial film clip) “You Are Beautiful”, is a no bullshit examination of body image driven by some heavy guitar and a lot of heart. There are many pop and rock artists who have tackled this issue, but very few have done so with such authenticity.

“Today” is a standout track that builds in intensity with an energy that matches its optimistic tone and is backed by some great drumming, while “Suzy’s on My Mind” is nicely constructed around a Led Zeppelin style monster riff.

It was some time ago that we first heard “Lizard Boy”, a pounding political track that takes aim at Tony Abbott with a power and a passion that the Oils would have been proud of. The song is presented here in an extended, revamped version that improves on last year’s release with a probing coda that acts as an effective counter-balance to the scorching musical attack in the body of the song; the intensity is pared back to reveal some deliciously bluesy guitar, some of the best work on the album.

Offering a gentle, intimate moment, “Here All Along” begins with acoustic finger-picking that places the focus on the raw beauty of Frasca’s voice, with the band fleetingly rising to their signature intensity near the end.

“The Day That We Were Done” is a beautiful, confessional song that is nicely backed by strings and builds to a thumping rhythm, further demonstrating band’s diversity in sound.

The title track burns like a slow Metallica track and sees the band returning to political themes. An epic that stretches to nearly ten minutes, it moves to a brilliant instrumental section in the second half, delivering some great guitar work and penetrating vocal wails from Frasca.

The band are back in familiar high energy riff-rock territory with “Rise” before the album closes out in an unexpected fashion with “Corazon En La Seda”. This number starts out with tender Spanish guitar and Frasca singing in poignant whispers, and ends in powerful rock ballad with searing guitars. It’s brilliant way to finish the LP and underscores the great strength of this band. Sure they do riff-rock and do it very well, but there are many more layers to Dallas Frasca.

By the end of the record you are ready to enlist in the Love Army, and like any great album, it leaves you with a hunger to hear these tracks played live.

Love Army is released on Friday 17 April through Social Family Records via CD and download, with a vinyl edition to follow.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor