A Love That Leads To War is a clear departure in style and mood for Memphis Tennessee’s Aquarian Blood. The band’s 2017’s debut LP on Goner Records, Last Nite In Paradise, is a chaotic punk epic, rising and falling like the soundtrack to a paranoid nightmare. As a live act, the six-piece band’s sonic atrocity left clubs and house shows around Memphis on life support. The band’s follow up Goner release, A Love That Leads To War, is a more intimate offering of fifteen tracks. Indirectly sparked when full-band drummer Bill Curry was temporarily lost due to a broken arm, Aquarian Blood began playing out in February 2018 as a scaled-down, four-piece incarnation. This more personal album was written, recorded and (almost entirely) performed by founding husband / wife duo J.B. Horrell (Ex-Cult) and NOTS alum Laurel Horrell.
Just grazing the surface of the album can draw a line backwards from the acoustic entirety of A Love That Leads To War to Aquarian Blood’s unsettling past. The opening track “There’s A World” is a finger-picked fever dream nailing the rarified “beauty jumps into bed w/ horror” sweet spot so squarely one can’t believe it’s not a cover of some hippy hangover perfection dating back to the Nixon administration. It’s no first-song / best-song hat trick, but rather a deft setup of the next thirty-nine minutes. “No Place I Know,” “In the Water,” and “Their Dream” would fit in well in the shimmier side of the Shimmy Disc catalog, and “Thought Of Her” is reminiscent of Damon and Naomi. Taken as a whole, though, this album retains the unsettling feel of the best atmospheric ’60s loner psych better than any of the above, and the occasional addition of swirly moog and staccato drum pad beats keep it from slipping into nostalgia. A Love That Leads To War is the perfect sound to erase the summer and soundtrack the low-hum of cold-weather anxiety.