Music

La Sera: Sees the Light

Kickball Katy goes out of her Vivian Girls perimeter and proves she can do better on her own with her sophomore effort as La Sera.


La Sera

Sees the Light

Label: Hardly Art
US Release Date: 2012-03-27
UK Release Date: 2012-03-26
Amazon
iTunes

It's only natural to fear the worst when an integral part of a relatively big, relatively niche, band announces a side project. So, anyone who had any doubts about "Kickball Katy" Goodman, the Vivian Girls' bassist, and her latest project, La Sera, is probably still letting out a long sigh of relief two albums in. Why the Vivian Girls inspire that amount of devotion in the first place is somewhat confusing but that's besides the point. Point being, Sees the Light is a pretty great record and a very welcome surprise from a still-developing young artist. Sees the Light not only takes the right parts from the right influences but stands up on its own as well. It's a solid testament to Goodman's vision and excels in its restraint and commitment to the sunny west-coast early surf/pop aesthetic it so expertly emulates.

Sees the Light begins in a surprisingly frail fashion, with the slow-burning "Love That's Gone". Everything on this track works perfectly, bridging the memorable melody with memorable lyrics, sung delicately for extra impact. It's strangely soothing and gives La Sera's sound a nice twist with some fantastic guitar-work thrown in for good measure. "Love That's Gone" is easily one of the most soothing tracks anyone's likely to hear this year on a punk-tinged LP. Right out of the gate with Sees the Light Goodman proves herself as a lyricist and subsequently blasts any thoughts of overwhelming melancholia straight to hell with "Please Be My Third Eye", an undeniably propulsive surf/punk rave-up. It's the perfect short blast, concise, energetic, and entertaining, filling Sees the Light with sudden potential.

"I Can't Keep You In My Mind" affirms the power of that potential instantly, offering a perfect hybrid of the opening two tracks and presenting an easy album highlight. There's something about the way everything comes together in this song that really makes it the best representation of not only Sees the Light but La Sera as well. Nearly every trick La Sera uses on Sees the Light is used to its strongest effect throughout the course of "I Can't Keep You In My Mind", which proves to be both a blessing and a curse. Since that lone song exploits those tricks potential to their absolute fullest, when they appear elsewhere in the album it's not quite as immediate, engaging, or powerful. Thankfully, that slight complaint is essentially the only main one to be found with Sees the Light.

When the album hits its mid-section the songs, while remaining distinct, do start to become faceless entities that blend into one another and offer no real standout moments, just solid ones pleasant enough to keep the listener on the line. The songwriting is still exceptional here but in the slower pacing that Sees the Light decides to bring out most prominently here, gets a little lost. "Real Boy" does its best to get things back on track and offers a good platform for Sees the Light to explode in its final act, which La Sera capitalizes on to a certain extent by offering the most brilliant left turns in this stretch.

"Drive On" takes a decidedly darker tone than the sunny atmosphere previously incorporated to great effect on Sees the Light, offering up a chorus that could actually be considered haunting. It's a small vivid moment that artfully articulates a balance between light and dark and subsequently becomes one of Sees the Light's most memorable songs. "How Far We've Come Now" sees the light fading and plummeting things to even darker places. It's an unrelentingly bleak piece in tone but balances itself out with somewhat hopeful lyrics that look both to the past and present. There's a moment towards the three quarters mark where a razor-sharp guitar solo cuts through everything and makes the song really jump out. It's a brilliant moment that for a moment elevates Sees the Light to near transcendence.

While the closing song, "Don't Stay", doesn't match that kind of heights it does make good use of its position and puts a fitting end cap on the proceedings. It's another slow song in the vein of the songs that hit during the mid-section but still can't surpass the opening track in terms of strength. In a lot of ways "Don't Stay" is the most indicative track in regards to what Sees the Light stands as which is simply a good album that never overstays its welcome and offers a nice reprieve to those in need of something light but still a little memorable.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.