Hey there fellow tourists, it is time again for another Souvenir of the Week. Although this album may sound like it comes from down here in southern California, but it actually comes to us from the great Pacific Northwest. This week’s souvenir is the album Its Alive by La Luz.
La Luz are a surf and doo-wop all female quartet from Seattle, Washington and were founded way back when in 2012. In their short time together as a band they have put in a lot of work and released a single called Brainwash, an EP called Damp Face, and this album It’s Alive. They also survived a pretty gnarly car crash while on tour that totaled their van, destroyed their merch and gear, and even broke a few ribs. Although they had to cancel the rest of the shows on the tour, in the long run they bounced back and are still playing shows in their hometown of Seattle and going on tours. So it is no doubt that these rad ladies have earned any and all hype that comes their way. Anyways, let’s get to the souvenir at hand.
It’s Alive perfectly showcases La Luz’s ability to have such a classic surf and doo-wop sound while still feeling fresh and modern. This album sounds like a sincere homage to and re-imagining of the greats from the past such as Dick Dale and the Del-Tones and the Ronnettes, without sounding like a Beach Boys tribute act. This unique sound is created by two very important aspects of the music: the lyrics and the somewhat darker mood of the music.
The key part of the lyrics that ensures that this album has a fresh sound to it is the lack of any references to summer, the beach, or anything related to the two. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach and summer, I don’t understand how people can not live near an ocean (specifically the Pacific, because come on it is the best one). However, I find that the lack of these topics really makes me take this album seriously as art instead of something fun to listen to while cruising down to the beach.
Instead of songs about soaking up the sun or surfing the perfect wave, this album offers up wistful remembrances of loves long gone and vague poetic verses that take some pondering to fully understand. Tracks like It’s Alive, Big Blood, and Pink Slime all might require some note taking and inner soul searching to figure out what you think they mean. Also, besides making you dust off your English notes most of the tracks contribute to the darker mood of this album directly with their subject matter. For example, the track What Good Am I? discusses how deep the despair can be when you’re unable to tell someone how they feel.
As stated previously, the second important aspect of this album is it’s overall darker sound. The tuning of the guitars, the overall lo-fi sound, eerie sounding backing vocals, sustained keyboard notes, and the lead vocals all contribute to this darker sound. The slower pacing and somewhat downbeat drums through out the album greatly create a very slow driving and somewhat somber sound. The song Call Me in the Day is a great example of this, even though there is a great guitar and keyboard solo in it, the slow and steady drums keep this track restrained. Its almost as if you can feel the gloominess of their home state being projected from your headphones straight into your brain.
Now, that’s not to say that this album is a complete downer. Tracks like Sure As Spring and Pink Slime are very upbeat and fun tracks to listen to. This is probably due to their more upbeat nature and the fact that they sound a bit more doo-wop then the other tracks.
My favorite tracks off of this album are: Sure As Spring, What Good Am I, Call Me in the Day, and What Good Am I? I know that this souvenir may seem a bit odd because I have pretty much described it as a surf and doo-wop album full of gloomy poetry, but I really think you should give it an earnest chance. I think this album is a great to listen to when its too hot to do anything but sit around and complain about the heat or during a cool summer night after at the beach. Also, I highly recommend it if you’re the type of person who likes surf and doo-wop music but gets tired of all the extreme cheerfulness and glee that usually comes with those two genres. Anyways, thanks again for reading and I’ll see you all next week.
Photo credit: http://n0-data.blogspot.com/2013/08/la-luz-its-alive.html