Thursday, December 23, 2021

Album Review: La Luz - La Luz

La Luz
**and1/2 out of *****

As with other established bands releasing self-titled albums well into their career the newest La Luz album signals a shift in style/rebirth for the outfit. The band has released solid past efforts as well as lived through life altering accidents, now for their newest release on Hardly Art, they scale back their patented surf-noir sound and amp the harmonies and psych rock.  

Starting with a lineup change as drummer Marian Li Pino's departure left the band as a trio (Shana Cleveland, Alice Sandahl, Lena Simon) with drummer Riley Geare helping out in the studio. La Luz chose to work with producer Adrian Young (Ghostface Killer, Jay Z, Talib Kweli) shifting gears into more R&B terrain. Not modern, R&B, more reminiscent of girl group efforts of the early 60's. Doo-Wop styling and layered sounds in a light Phil Spector vein float along on the tracks. The easy rolling "Oh, Blue" languidly drifts by, "Metal Man" injects every garage rock instrumentation/sound while "Down The Street" is the best of the bunch in this new Shangri-La's style proving to be an album highlight. 

The band still has traces of their past as opener "In The Country" shimmers with guitar strums and laser blast keys, those electro-keyb bleeps and warbles take center stage on "The Pines" while "Goodbye Ghost" wants to rock, but stays restrained under layers of sound.

Main songwriter Cleveland moved from Seattle to Northern California and writes more about grounded emotions this go around, Perhaps the stoner country seeped in to much as "Watching Cartoons" starts out with an interesting hip hop inspired bass and drums before the lyrics and vocals come off as a dull diary entry. That sense of high wandering also weighs down the drawn out "Lazy Eyes and Dune" like some heavy weight edibles.

Better is the interlocking shimmy and shake of "I Won't Hesitate" which feels of both their past work and their new direction as the band links harmonies and lets the space flow. The warbling "Here on Earth" and the "She's So Heavy" inspired distort rock instrumental of "Spider House" ends the record on positive notes. 

The self titled release starts the band in a new direction, but their surf-noir past is still within reach while they transition into a more wide open future. These first steps can be a bit rickety, but La Luz is always a band worth checking in on.  

Support the artists, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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