We’re 50 years past the time when surf rock first made the scene, and there are still plenty of young bands mining that chirpy, reverb-heavy sound for inspiration. And many of these new outfits aren’t trying to rewrite the formula either. For good or for ill, they stick to the template. Can’t say we should blame them for this, considering how much fun groups like Guantanamo Baywatch, Shannon & The Clams, and the all-female quartet from Seattle known as La Luz sound like they’re having.
What La Luz have going for them on their second album is a willingness to crank down the tempos to a sexy crawl that feel intended for bumping and grinding rather than shimmying or frugging. That’s what makes the dusky closing tracks “Oranges” and “True Love Knows” stick so deep; by the time you’re finished getting hot and sticky with the former, the latter will help you softly come down from all that heavy petting.
There’s also the plain joy of the band’s vocal harmonies. Guitarist Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and drummer Marian Li Pino lock together like a Motown/Wall of Sound group of yore, using their bounding arrangements to elevate charming, low key little numbers such as “Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere” and “You Disappear” beyond their throwback trappings.
Like most groups of this kind, you have to be really invested in this style of music to really yearn to hear this outside of a live setting or when you’re looking to soundtrack your next beach-themed backyard BBQ. Though it would have sounded potentially gauche if La Luz were to try and force the Farfisa organ and shimmying rhythms into a more modern musical style, records like these tend to float in the background and wind up forgotten on your shelves or in your digital libraries.