Album Review of
The Love Hate Syndrome

Written by Robert Silverstein
November 13, 2022 - 3:25pm EST
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Sweden’s Paraply Records label returns in 2022 with the full-length debut solo album by Swedish singer-songwriter Johanna Lillvik. The 12-track, 51-minute release of The Love Hate Syndrome heralds the arrival of a major pop talent on the world stage. With her dynamic theatrical flair inspired by Bowie, Kate Bush, the perennially dramatic music of Kurt Weill and others in full flight, Ms. Lillvik  certainly lives up to the hype on an album that presents her artistry in the best possible light.

Taken together; Johanna’s production skills, her composing, piano skills and vocals are truly a thing to marvel at. Modern pop fans, as well as progressive rock fans in tune with Bowie and Bush, will dig the sense of sonic urgency in play on The Love Hate Syndrome. While she made inroads appearing on the 2020 album with Blues Escape and her 2017 debut CD ep, The Love Hate Syndrome represents her finest work to date.

Giving the album its sonic shine, drummer / guitarist Kim Gunneriusson keeps the beat strong, bringing forth powerful rock dynamics. Despite their country’s history of nurturing top-notch singers and songwriters, the Swedes nevertheless have been conflicted at times about singing completely in English, although on her new album Ms. Lillvik displays a fine command over the English language.

In addition to his solid drumming, the versatile Kim Gunneriusson adds in some of his own inspired electric guitar licks, allowing Johanna to further incite the crowd with her luminescent songs. Gunneriusson provided the big beat on the trio of Citizen K albums on Paraply and his guitar-centric approach on The Love Hate Syndrome is equally effective. In addition to Kim’s drums and guitars, also on tap here is guitarist Mikael Carlsson, along with various other players on horns, accordion as well as a string arranger.

Musically, every song is strong. The album's lead off track, “Hydra” is very exciting and is quite theatrical, as are most of the songs here. “Modern Woman” sizzles with racy lyrics while “Mothers Blues” pumps out the big sound with Johanna’s piano and vocals taking center stage. The Bowie, Bush and Queen comparisons notwithstanding, on The Love Hate Syndrome Sweden’s Johanna Lillvik takes the music world by storm with one of the truly prodigious pop-rock albums of 2022.