The new record from La Luz, Floating Features, out on Friday from Hardly Art, feels like a reward. For those of us who were late to discover the joys of the band's music, or who came in on the release of Weirdo Shrine in 2015, it's been quite a wait for new La Luz music. And now, with Finally Floating, it feels as if the band has hit the sort of artistic peak that rewards our patience over the last 3 long years.
The epic "Cicada" sets the tone with a mix of surf and soundtrack hooks mixing up in a blast of tune-age that's damn hard to describe in writing. The excellent video for the song nearly threatens to eclipse the significant charms of the cut itself, but the offering is a nice sample of what's going on here on Floating Features. La Luz blend a lot of stuff up in the pursuit of some real pop pleasures, like on the roiling "California Finally", or the very lovely "Mean Dream", all Margo Gruyan-tinged, sun-dappled dreaminess. Elsewhere, the epic "Loose Teeth" nods in the direction of both early Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds as well as Los Lobos, while the sinister "The Creature" builds tension through the use of some throwback vibes and eerie riffs. The deliberate "Walking Into The Sun" is a standout too, as is unsettling closer "Don't Leave Me On The Earth" which marries a near-C86-style bit of vocal business with the band's usual guitar attack.
The real problem with La Luz is that the band's music is likely to get labeled dream-pop -- a label that's seen frequently if defined far more infrequently -- or as surf rock. And while I can understand that need to put this music somewhere, it's far easier to say that it's simply damn near impossible to really describe what makes this stuff magical. The players here -- singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and bassist Lena Simon -- have used Floating Features to reveal the sort of musicianship that modern indie bands rarely possess. All the pieces fit here, even if a listener can't quite describe the infectious symmetry being heard brought to life. The soundtrack to the David Lynchian imaginings in your head, Floating Features is vitally enjoyable.
Floating Features is out on Friday via Hardly Art.
[Photo: Chona Kasinger]