In a world of gloomy, surf-infused indie music, Lala Lala seeks to shake up the genre much like Alvvays did some years ago. This new record can feel familiar enough, but it often takes a left turn just as you start feeling like you know it. By constantly subverting your expectations and being emotionally open, Lala Lala creates a breathtaking piece of work that favours range over consistency.
Even though it oozes out a surfy sound, there’s a subtle mix of electronics and downbeat reverb to “Destroyer” that bring out a real depth to the sound. More than anything else, Lala Lala’s ability to explode into euphoria like flipping a switch is goose bump-inducing. Between all its influences, there’s a rush of energy to “Spy” that makes it a wonder to hear, as it makes all these sounds feel fresh somehow. Lala Lala hits a powerful stride however on “Water Over Sex” where a light dance shuffle makes the song bounce and the vocals seem to constantly ride the verge of tears. This addictive rhythm and intense emotion keeps the song strong and endlessly intriguing.
“I Get Cut” however is the punchy and amazingly abrasive art-rock song that you likely wouldn’t expect from the album’s opening. It’s constant up and down dynamics, and the relentless fury to the drums make for a track that gets you letting all your inhibitions go. This kind of writing is the album’s continuous ace as a song like “Dove” seems all too light but quickly gains a different kind of momentum in its drums. Even when it remains stagnant, there’s an emotional richness between this song and “Dropout” that really make you want to return to them. On top of this, Lala Lala is able to whip out great moments and new kinds of choruses again and again to help her tracks stay interesting the whole way through.
Songs like “The Flu” can have that typical gloomy indie-rock feeling to them at first, but the weird beats and slow reveal of the writing shake things up quickly. Even the strangely bass-heavy vocals seem to suggest a sense of mock-sadness that show a keen bit of humour behind all the dense production. Such is also the case on something like “Copycat” that is both emotionally more honest but able to avoid predictability. Much like how Lala Lala is able to show every side of herself in these songs, there’s something really powerful to hearing her evolve within these tracks. “Scary Movie” itself is one of her most vulnerable as it strips down to vocals and lets a couple guitars layer in with her to show a sense of triumph by the end of the track.
It’s interesting on this note that “Moth” while somewhat samey to “Scary Movie,” ramps up the speed and evolves into something much more chipper and hopeful. While it really holds onto its building groove, there’s something truly invigorating to its final cries. “When You Die” returns to the multi-directional rock that starts the record as Lala Lala brings off-kilter rhythms and lets her vocals spiral into something cloudy. This strong dynamic in the writing and a truly rich sounds lets her return to form right before the record closes out. Though “See You At Home” is a much more patient listen to be certain, it’s spacey take on jangly indie goes from sleepy to mesmerizing.
Words by Owen Maxwell