La Sera

Sees the Light

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    8
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On her second album under the La Sera name, Vivian Girls bassist Katy Goodman changes things up radically behind the scenes but still ends up with a record that is just as good, if not better, than her excellent self-titled debut. On that record all the music was written and played by Goodman's friend Brady Hall, and he put together a gauzy and sweet update of an early pop/girl group sound that fit Goodman's charmingly direct lyrics and vocals perfectly. On Sees the Light Goodman takes a larger role, writing the music and playing bass as well as singing. She's helped out by Darker My Love's Rob Barbato on guitar and production, and together they go for a sound that is less reverb-y and less early pop, more spunky and more punky. Tracks like "Please Be My Third Eye" and "Break My Heart" have a bouncy early Blondie feel, with lightly distorted guitars and Goodman's voice pushed up in the mix; the incredibly hooky "I'm Alone" probably would have been a huge hit for Blondie if they had released it in 1979. The rest of the album benefits from both the increase in energy and the decrease in reverb the duo brings to the sound. The heavier songs (like the dirge-y "How Far We've Come Now") have more of a bite; the lighter songs ("Real Boy," "Don't Stay") have a lilting prettiness that the reverb sort of buried on the previous album. Goodman's voice is brought up higher in the mix throughout and she proves herself to be a capable vocalist, belting it out when she needs to (like on the heart-tugger "Drive On"), but mostly crooning sweetly and clearly. Her work on the deeply emotional but restrained track ("Love That's Gone") that opens the album with heartbreak shows a depth and power that her vocals didn't quite have before. In almost every way, Sees the Light is an impressive leap forward for Goodman that shows she's more than ready to make La Sera her full-time musical outlet.

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