Album Review: La Luz - 'Floating Features' (Hardly Art)
Snaking spaghetti western quartet make the soundtrack to a kooky retro L.A pool party on Floating Features.
La Luz, meaning 'the light' in Spanish, originally hail from rainy Seattle. However, they recently made the move, perhaps towards the 'light', when band leader Shana Cleveland decamped her group to the warmer climes of California - establishing themselves in Los Angeles. La Luz's new album is a leap forward in terms of the far glossier production than previous offerings - with everything sounding that bit warmer and more processed, which isn't a bad thing. Floating Features is in general more confident than 2015's Weirdo Shrine, which is definitely helped by the super slick production but it also suggests that the groups woozy and sunny psychedelic sound has found itself a more fitting home in its new surroundings - with La Luzs' music hazily and vaguely reminiscent of 1960's Californian greats such as The Doors and Beach Boys.
Album opener, and instrumental title track 'Floating Features' sets the tone with its Led Zep vs The Doors' swirly classic-rock intro. The ever-present spaghetti western sound which the band have stayed true to throughout their back catalogue says 'hello' right from the off. Weaving its way throughout the whole album in different guises, but mostly through the twangy guitar riffs that snake themselves around the songs' intertwining harmonies.
'Loose Teeth' seems to be about an anxious dream where one loses one's teeth, maybe a reference to the disorientating anxiety which accompanies the upheaval of relocation. Quickly though, the LP finds its pace and relaxes into the Brian Wilson on a bad day vibed 'Mean Dream', it's here that it strikes the listener that this album needs a setting. Letting the imagination run wild as the LP plays out, images of a sunny California-canyon, Tarantino esq pool party scene, dated in the 1960's or 1970's spring to mind, also the movie Boogie Night's surfaces with its famous 1970's pool party scene.
As we get further into the LP it becomes obvious that each track could, in fact, lead the listener through the various phases and energies a party like this has. For instance, standout track 'California Finally' kicks the party off as it soundtracks dive bombs into the pool, umbrellered cocktails and lines of class-As being passed around on geometric trays, and general groovy vibes.
Mid-way through the album, as the Dandy Warhols are channelled into the intro of 'The Creature', its woozy melody accompanies the party as it changes down a gear. The sun begins to sink, the pace slows down, as the party begins to move indoors and the incense sticks and candles are lit. The evening takes a definite turn towards this by the time we reach the gonged and echo-heavy 'My Golden One'. The track's lusciously produced, dream-hazed vocals drift out from the stereo system and through the patio doors, towards the last outdoor stragglers draped over sun chairs and pool hammocks.
Re-energising the album and the imaginary party is the uptempo 'Lonely Dozer'. People move inside to a lava lamp glow, a quick drink refill and a second wind - the acid-psyche beat of 'Lonely Dozer' inspires a boogie on a makeshift, lounge dance floor. The trippy 'Greed Machine' gets weird and a bit dark: the partygoers who've smoked too much weed, skulk into paranoid corners of the room and observe the other half of the group who begin to cosy up to partners. Doo-wop flavours of 'Walking Into The Sun' begin to drone out and the romancers slow dance and move into empty bedrooms and quiet corners for canoodling.
Album closer 'Don't Leave Me On Earth' soundtracks the reluctant last stragglers of the party. As the night ends, the meandering and introspective journey home begins - to the backdrop of a pink-hued sunrise. Wow, what a trip!