Since 2015, the Seattle-formed La Luz – fronted by vocalist and guitarist Shana Cleveland, alongside drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon – have been based in LA, a mecca of shiny studio production. On ‘Floating Features’ a hi-fi LA sound has taken hold, and the DIY values of the band’s 2013 debut ‘It’s Alive’ and 2015 follow-up ‘Weirdo Shrine’ have been left behind in favour of shinier production, stripping the tracks of the trio’s charming authenticity.
Nonetheless, they still bathe themselves in the woozy psychedelia they’ve always held close. Stand-out track ‘Lonely Dozer’ shows off an instrumental break full of twangy guitar riffs alongside an organ line which ripples in and out of rumbling drums. On ‘California Finally’ it’s the keys and guitar which work against each other to interrogate the track’s brash harmony. At times Lena’s bass work is brilliantly unsettling, hinting at possible glitches in the harmonic make-up of these tracks, and uncovering the tender intricacies of the band’s songwriting.
What is typically surfed-up about ‘Floating Features’ is the subdued nature of each track. Shana’s vocals, decked in harmonic accompaniment from her bandmates, sound dream-like. This comes at both ends of the spectrum: ‘Loose Teeth’ is disorientating and nightmarish in its pounding, while ‘Walking into the Sun’ is a dreamy waltz, which spins with the tenderness of sleep and a lullaby chorus of “doo-wops.”
La Luz play with an enchanting sensitivity. If only their raw knack for rhythm and harmony were left untouched by unnecessarily glossy production.