Formerly known as Janine Rostron, the woman behind Berlin project Planningtorock has changed her name to the less gender-specific Jam Rostron for her third album. The constant ambiguity of All Love’s Legal is a true testament to gender equality. Even the low register of her voice eschews both the masculine and feminine. The line “You can’t illegalize love/love is the one gift that gives life its purpose,” from the titular track, will make most think to themselves, “Yeah, obviously.” But with homosexuality being declared a crime in in many countries, including the current Olympic host Russia, All Love’s Legal is a timely and necessary protest album.
The lyrics are humanistic calls to action, occasionally angry and often face-value. However, not all nuance is lost. Gendered pronouns do not appear on the album, thus the record feels distant, as if Rostron is isolated from the listener, a tactic that makes the album intriguingly impersonal yet universal.
Retaining the ’80s Yamaha synth vibe of her two previous albums, Rostron has veered more into overt dance pop. The staccato keys on Misogny Drop Dead are awkwardly thrilling, and the jagged synths that rain down on Public Love are scattered but never confused. Planningtorock’s collaboration with The Knife on the opera Tomorrow In A Year was four years ago now, but the duo’s imprint on Rostron remains. Like Let’s Talk About Gender Baby, an itchy reinterpretation of The Knife’s Full Of Fire from 2013′s Shaking The Habitual.
“Give me a human drama/There’s lots to learn but so much more to unlearn/The personal is so political/It kinda feels like gender’s just a lie.” That insight repeats throughout the all-too-aptly named track, Human Drama. Hopefully All Love’s Legal has allowed Jam Rostron to further facilitate conversations of identity politics, sexual freedom and—that which is at the heart of the album and the common human drama—love.