This was a good introduction for me. So I wonder if I had heard of La Luz before because I jumped on the chance to see them live. [Edit: think I heard them play on Spotify's station for Los Bitchos] Chill album, great sound quality; beautiful ballads. This is the mellower follow up to Floating Features. Do yourself a favor and buy both this one and Floating Features. They kind of work together. That's a nice gift for the holidays! 🙂
Favorite track: Watching Cartoons.
On their self-titled fourth album, La Luz launch themselves into a new realm of emotional intimacy for a collection of songs steeped in the mysteries of the natural world and the magic of human chemistry that has found manifestation in the musical ESP between guitarist and songwriter Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, and keyboardist Alice Sandahl.
To help shape La Luz, the band found a kindred spirit in producer Adrian Younge. Though primarily known for his work with hip-hop, soul, and jazz acts, Younge saw in La Luz a shared vision that transcended genre. “We both create music with the same attitude, and that’s what I love about them,” he says. “They are never afraid to be risky and their style is captivating. It was an honor to work with them.”
The result is an album that is both the most naturalistic and psychedelic of the band’s career. All the elements of classic La Luz are still present—the lush harmonies, the impeccable musicianship, the gorgeous melodies—but it’s a richer, earthier iteration, replete with inorganic sounds that mimic the surreality of nature—the humming of invisible bugs, the atmospheric sizzle of a hot day. After spending the last few years living in rural northern California, Cleveland’s lyrics have become more grounded, less interested in traveling to other dimensions than in peeking behind the curtain of this one.
La Luz shimmers into existence with a tender strumming of electric guitar on the ghostly “In the Country.” The record then charges ahead with the dynamic “The Pines,” propelled by Simon’s thunderous bassline and punctuated by eerie vibrating keys while Cleveland’s voice hovers high and sweet overhead—no reverb, no fooling. Sandahl leads the way with a soulful Hammond organ on the dreamy, funky “Watching Cartoons,” while the women’s voices weave in and around each other, coming together in a cascade of “ba ba ba ba’s” in the chorus. Later, the band cranks up the atmospherics on madcap stomper “Metal Man” with a frenzy of ultra-fuzzed out guitar, blaring galactic synths, and epic clanging bells. The record’s themes coalesce on breezy 70s folk-tinged pop song “I Won’t Hesitate,” an ode to finding intimacy in a weird world, and the languid ballad “Lazy Eyes and Dune,” which features lovely Mellotron work from Simon. La Luz is an album that celebrates love—of music, of friendship, of life in all its forms.