La Sera – Music For Listening to Music to Review

American indie-rock trio La Sera released the follow up to their grungy third studio album, Hour of the Dawn, on 4th March 2016. However, their new material, Music for Listening to Music to, released by Polyvinyl, takes a much more relaxed approach than the heady tunes of its predecessor. With the guidance of Ryan Adams, Katy Goodman, Todd Wiesenbaker and Daniel Gomez have explored a completely different direction, demonstrating that La Sera will never fail to surprise their avid admirers.
The album opens with the enthusiastic High Notes. The track is seemingly an immediate sign post to the diverse and courageous route the band have travelled along with this album. The song is introduced by a distinctively country, beautifully textured guitar riff – quickly establishing Adams’ influence to this album – before indulging in the dreamy yet haunting vocals that Goodman provides. The country vibe is enhanced by the intermittent harmonica towards the end. Goodman’s is not a voice you would tend to associate with the feverish country style; it shouldn’t work, but it just does. The vitality of the track paired with Goodman’s calming influence balances out the sounds in a sophisticated way. Though there’s a certain elegance to this flamboyant number, lyrics such as “I’m sorry, is this song too slow?” pays homage to La Sera’s previous rebellious punk hits.
Following High Notes is the tamer A Thousand Ways. Once again, simple guitar riffs provide the gateway for Goodman, yet this track identifies greater with the folk/indie genre. This seems to be the case for the majority of the tracklist; High Notes definitely stands out as the most country-like and up beat from the other tracks. Track number one is definitely the album’s most profound asset; as soon as it reaches it’s close, Music for Listening to Music to descends into a downward spiral. High Notes is the antitheses of the solemn vibes manufactured by Take My Heart or Shadow of Your Love, yet these tracks still exhibit the ever-so-popular simplistic riff. The minimalist slant taken to the instrumental side of things does allow Goodman’s entrancing voice to claim its rightful position at centre stage, yet begins to get mundane. Each track seems to have been tackled in an unchanged way, with the next song’s structure not too dissimilar from its neighbour. After the jaunty High Notes, the tracks deteriorate, with a hasty romantic rejuvenation provided by a duet from the newlyweds, Goodman and Wiesenbaker, as featured on I Need an Angel. Overall, the album is easy to listen to, but after the flash of fun in the opening two minutes and five seconds, plus the addition of truly unique vocals, nothing strays far from polite folky guitars and humble riffs.
La Sera – Music for Listening to Music to = 6/10

Eleanor Chivers

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