The self-titled album Lay-Luz by Lay-Luz is a fantastic mix of indie rock and Brian Wilson-like harmonies and structures. Peppered in with some psychedelia, when the songs lock in, they’re extremely good.
“Adonis” opens the album with Beach Boy like harmonies singing over reverbed guitar and broken down drums. With dream pop chords along a gentle tempo, the song ebbs and flows into psychedelic instrumental interludes, Andy Summers-esque guitar tone and vocal melodies that sound like a blend of Guided By Voices and Modest Mouse. “Lust” pulls and pushes at the momentum with band hits, stops and sixteenth note patterns on the hi-hat. The song never settles into one groove for very long, but manages to pull and intrigue the listener along, always staying interesting throughout.
“Turn” uses lush harmonies as a wall of sound to provide support behind sparse guitar chords, handclaps and a drum pattern searching through itself. It can get a bit messy and trippy at times, though when it syncs up, the song has some real bite to it. There is a Sea & Cake vibe that lends itself to the songwriting in this one, esoteric, dreamy and intriguing. “Station” stirs up some Sting like melodies against an aggressive fuzzed outmarch. It’s a catchy song with a lot of drive and uses the stereo panning well to lend to the psychedelia. The instrumental goes on a bit long, but when the vocals return the band ramps up the energy and finishes strong with a choral-like final chorus.
The two best songs on the album are “Sweet” and “Slick.” “Sweet” moves from a motoric drum opening to upper register arpeggios on the guitar that slide around. Distant harmonies pulse up and down blending into the bass and guitar seamlessly as a whole other texture. The melody is catchy, the lyrics clever and the dynamics excellent. “Slick” is full of surf guitar vibrato, which wash in with big chords as well as Brian Wilson-ish quarter-note pulses. The band establishes a great groove with some interesting textural changes built around falsetto harmonies, slide guitars, and stops and starts.
“Helios” has a funky bass line and some great call-and-response vocal lines. It’s a slow build-up and burn into the song, but worth every moment moving from bold harmonies to head bobbing stoner rock and into a post-rock instrumental section featuring a dream-pop guitar solo. The careful attention paid to the various tones of the instruments and how they are fused together make for an epic (though also compact) pocket-symphony.
Not all of the songs are as successful. “Traz” has some excellent vocal parts to it and an interesting chord progression. Some of the hits within the band don’t’ quite line up from time to time though which pulls away some of the groove and momentum of the track. There are a lot of individual parts going on in each section, and some transitions to those sections might help make each of those sections shine more. “Surprise” is a sloppy garage rock song that has some good intentions but has trouble lining up and feeling in sync with itself. Again, the backing vocals are heavenly and well constructed and the overall direction the song is heading in is promising, but tightening up the parts could help the song really take off.
“Bears” closes the album with 6/8 arpeggios playing what could be a prom dance in a land of obscured mirrors. Some Beatle-y backing vocals give the song a triumphant build and helps the album finish strong (even with a little hidden guitar track that pops up in a “Her Majesty” type of way).
Lay-Luz has some excellent songs and an interesting way of performing them. When they lock in, they really soar. Some attention to some of the details on syncing up the performances of instruments on other songs (as well as some simplification) could help them sit even better with the real gems on the album.
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