Monday, 17 January 2011

La Sera – La Sera (Hardly Art)

Vivian Girls are one of my favourite bands of late because they are a little heavier, a little darker, a little rockier than the other acts making Spector inspired twee-pop. Which is why, by all intents and purposes, Katy Goodman’s candyfloss and teacups side project La Sera shouldn’t have engaged me as much as it has. It is a dream record, in more ways than one. Her voice is rasping silk, woven in and out of maudlin drums and Beach Boys guitar. It is less Shangri La’s and more Sandy Shaw. A summer afternoon 45” with a picture of a teddy bear on the cover played by a little girl on a pink plastic record player. Get the picture? It’s soft, it’s cute, and it doesn’t apologise.

Comparisons will come thick and fast at this time of femme-pop market saturation. La Sera will remind you lyrically of First Aid Kit, musically of Warpaint, and vocally of Metrics’ Emily Haines or Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy (but 10 years ago before the rock and roll lifestyle gruffed her up). There are also heavy notes of shoegaze artists Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. Personally I found the ‘all girls together’ sleepover vibe, and light as a feather breathy singing, harked back to Girls Together Outrageously and Tyrannosaurus Rex, respectively. It is probably closest, however, to everyone’s favourite new band, Best Coast. This might sound schizophrenic, but in taking from the past, La Sera documents well the signature sound of 2011.

Picking out the best songs on this album is hard, and here in lies the one fault with La Sera, repetition. You could easily say that messing with a perfect system is needless, and there are shifts in mood here, but they are small to say the least. Single Never Come Around is upbeat playful pop. You’re Going to Cry is archetypal sixties girlgroup with its layered vocal and dreary subject matter. Hold is a psychedelic trance-like euphoria, evoking flower fields, maxi dresses, and mushrooms. Dove Into Love is heartbreaking and romantic, as is much of the album.

After falling in love with Vivian Girls I didn’t think I could feel any more gratitude to them than that I’ve been harnessing since the release of 2009s Everything Goes Wrong, but my love affair with Katy Goodman has been rejuvenated with this shot of girlish flower power romance, and I’m swooning at the thought of spending 2011 holed up in a love-lorn idyll with La Sera.

Words : Maya Boustany

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