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La Luz

Review: La Luz – News of the Universe

In an overwhelming moment in history, there is a lot to be said for bands that can perfectly encapsulate not so much direct social commentary, but sonically, embellish both the bedlam and the bliss in one go. Step forward La Luz and their 5th album, News of the Universe; their first offering on Sub Pop records.

I personally am all for a band that has the power to simultaneously play how stressful life can feel and also perfectly distract from the reality of a Monday morning rainy train window.  None more so than lead single Strange World – a psychedelic almost menacing swagger rattler that is punctured by a melodic chorus with a mantra like chanting of “we’ll be fine, just take your time”.  The message is universal, but for guitarist and songwriter, Shana Cleveland, the song and whole album is a reflection of a deep personal crisis, recounting having her world blown to pieces by a breast cancer diagnosis two years after the birth of her son. 

I am enjoying just riding on that swirling surf-pop of sound, if the waves were a sludge of bad news and nuclear sewage. The title feels generic, but this record is anything but; the all female outfit lifting their album title from a collection of metaphysical poetry. News of the Universe marks the first appearance for drummer Audrey Johnson and the final ones from longtime La Luz members bassist Lena Simon and keyboardist Alice Sandahl, cementing the feeling that News of the Universe balances an ancient past with a celestial future.

There is rooted and earthy hope amongst darkness on this record.  Something weird looms over songs such as Poppies, like a science fiction page turner you read on an AI generated beach holiday you went on by mistake – you can’t help but plow on with nervous abandon. Whilst Dandelions has me on edge as if Cleveland is running away from her past into a misty apocalyptic abyss with swirling angelic vocals, again broken by a hazy cosmic rocket ship of sound heading for a star with no name.

I’ll Go With You slams in with an absolutely filthy riff, like it’s not showered since the water supply ran out, but catches you out once more with slow and dreamlike chamber pop vocals that harks a distant Beach House or a smattering of Connor Mockasin.  My highlight Blue Moth Cloud Shadow drips with both wavy organ hallucinations and guitar licks that could light a late night campsite fire on the moon.

La Luz flexes power in songs, but also power in production; from the performing, writing, and producing all the way through to the recording, engineering, and mastering, the record is made entirely by women. “There is something inherently and simultaneously sweet and brutal about womanhood,” says Cleveland. “That is something I hear on this record.”

Patient and rhythmic offerings on Good Luck With Your Secret or the instrumental Moon in Reverse feel welcomed amongst the chaos (the former with an endless Ray Manzarek like organ solo)  but if we didn’t have brutal chaos in your world, how could you appreciate love and nature and simple pleasures like your favourite seat next to that Monday morning rainy train window? Then news is in: You need blissful, brutal, cathartic chaos. You need this record. You need La Luz.

La Luz
4.0 rating
Total Score
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