La Luz: Weirdo Shrine

la-luz

La Luz
Weirdo Shrine
(Hardly Art)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The indie rocker’s all female, Seattle based, dark, dreamy surf/garage quartet of choice returns for another dose of the unique sound they introduced on their short but impressive 2013 debut. Two years, one near fatal car accident and a new bass player later they return, with Ty Segall behind the boards, to churn out another slab of the same, but arguably better.

This shadowy sound, drenched in reverb and often sounding like the Raveonettes fronted by Lana Del Ray looks back over its shoulder to the 60s girl groups and surf bands that inspired them while keeping a grasp on contemporary, stripped down production. It’s a tricky balance but they pull it off effortlessly thanks to stylized songs that wallow in dusky, dim light, with cautionary lyrics and a commitment that four minutes is too long to spend on any tune. Titles such as “I Can’t Speak,” “Black Hole, Weirdo Shine” and the opening “Sleep Till they Die” provide a sense of the foreboding atmosphere La Luz (Spanish for “the light”) thrives in.

Even when they get frisky on the “Lust for Life” styled driving rhythm section of “I Wanna be Alone (With You),” there is an ominous subtext highlighted by devastating guitar strongly reminiscent of Link Wray, an icon who looms large in La Luz’s gallery. The organ of Alice Sandahl and Shana Cleveland’s fuzz drenched guitar drive the nightmarish “I’ll Be True” and the creeping instrumental “Orange.” And when the vibe turns romantic on the closing “True Love Knows,” there remains a lonely and despondent feeling implying no one looks at the bright side in La Luz’s songs.

While the group’s debut dabbled in these noirish moods, now with the assistance of Segall Weirdo Shrine pushes into even murkier crevices yet never descends too deep to keep one eye on pop melodies. At 11 tracks that clock in just over half an hour, it’s done too quickly. But we spend just enough time in La Luz’s nocturnal surf world to push repeat and return again, an action the best albums always provoke.

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