La Luz – Floating Features
La Luz add new creative wrinkles to their retro “surf-noir” sound without spoiling a winning formula on new album Floating Features. Fractured fairy tales and trippy pop songs, performed by a band talented and harmonious enough to do its reference points justice, prove that garage-punk isn’t completely ruined by ’90s-crazed 20-somethings – nor is it carried by veterans, as the Luzers have only been a recording act since 2012.
Aside from the instrumental title track and the album-closing “Don’t Leave Me on Earth,” this ain’t a typical modern garage album, created to point back to obscure nuggets or to mirror lesser-known peers. Instead, it’s more of an ode to the weirder side of some pretty obvious stuff – Phil Spector-produced girl groups, the Beach Boys, Cucumber Castle-era Bee Gees, etc. Basically, they seem really carried away with the songs that prove that your parents had great musical taste all along.
Examples of this imaginative yet derivative approach include the acoustic-driven weirdness of “Mean Dream” and the even more bizarre “My Golden One” and “Walking Into the Sun” – the latter of which sounds like doo-wop being sung in a fading desert oasis. These songs and others bring pleasant surprises without straying from the fun, memorable formula that fuels a tremendous live show, capable of making even the most highfalutin audiences dance on command.
Floating Features is their third album, with the first two out in 2013 and 2015, respectively. While a new La Luz release is always welcome, the space in between albums might be a secret to their appeal. I never fully got Ty Segall or (Thee) Oh Sees, and those stretches where you couldn’t piss without the stream hitting a new release by either act makes me think it’d be a tad overwhelming to give them a second listen.