With The Vivian Girls calling it a day earlier this year, Katy Goodman’s La Sera side project is now unburdened by other distractions. Perhaps it is just coincidence, but ‘Hour Of The Dawn’, her third album under this name, does sound like it’s had a weight lifted. It is her most energetic solo release to date.
Whereas the first couple of La Sera records felt insular and quite introspective, once you peeled back the gloriously summery melodies that Goodman seems incapable of not infusing into anything she touches, there’s an increased sense of urgency and energy about this album.
It still delivers a lot of what you’d probably expect from her: a series of garage pop tracks with a hefty debt to 1960s girl-bands, but there’s a little less whimsy and a bit more punch than earlier attempts. More punk-pop than pop-punk.
There’s also more spite here. On ‘Losing To The Dark’ Goodman deftly achieves the trick of burying a poisonous message in something that appears sparky and joyous. The song barrels along with the joyous tumble of a bunch of high-school kids careering out onto the beach on the last day of school. But the lyrics are dark and venomous, lamenting bitterly over a relationship with a no-good addict as fuzzy feedback sounds and the guitars bite.
There’s definitely more of a focus on the ol’ axe on Hour Of The Dawn. All over the record, there are bigger riffs and more intricate, elongated guitar solos. Interestingly, given the fact that grit and guitars do appear in larger quantities across ‘Hour Of The Dawn’, you could well make the point that this La Sera album is the most Vivian Girl-like of any of the three to date.
It is a bit of a shame that ‘Hour Of The Dawn’ runs out of steam slightly. From the middle of the record onwards, many of the tracks are similarly paced and while they’re never anything less than pretty, too many of the tracks seem lightweight and tend towards inconsequentiality.
But then again, it’s hard to criticise someone who can produce a song as achingly heartfelt as ‘Fall Into Place’ - a truly lovely thing, tinged with just a hint of The Smiths. And ultimately, it is very, very hard to dislike ‘Hour Of The Dawn’.
More like this
For an overwhelming portion of this Ryan Adams-produced record, La Sera just sound a bit too polite.
Katy Goodman and Todd Wisenbaker have given DIY an exclusive stream of their new LP, plus a song-by-song guide.