This month sees albums released by an ex Vivian Girl and a current Vivian Girl; the Brooklyn three-piece seem to be a common bond linking all manner of like minded lo-fi American indie pop groups. Following on from ex Vivian Girls drummer Frankie Rose‘s debut solo album is Sees The Light, the second album from current bassist Katy Goodman’s solo project La Sera. Unlike Frankie Rose, who has moved her sound in a decidedly more synth based style, Goodman has stuck largely with the same lo-fi indie ideals of the Vivian Girls. Yet despite sharing a similar sound, Sees The Light does see Goodman imparting some of her own distinct style.
There is a harder edged sound to Sees The Light, in particular in contrast to La Sera’s rather more dreamy and opaque debut. There is a pleasing balance here between vibrant fuzzy riff based tracks and more understand gentle and delicate laments. This is Goodman’s heartbreak album and a casual glance at the track listing bears out that assertion, with titles like Love That’s Gone, Break My Heart, It’s Over Now and I’m Alone. There is no danger of the album degenerating into a morose dirge though as Goodman’s sprightly pure voice and the sharp refined songs allow it to remain vital rather than maudlin.
The single Please Be My Third Eye is perhaps the best example of the album’s fast-paced tracks and it has a thrilling drive to it; it’s a wonderful piece of fuzzy guitar pop. The jangling guitar sounds of I’m Alone are just as satisfying, with a nice contrast between the upbeat music and Goodman’s lyrics as she laments that “I have wasted all my time”.
Despite the thrill of some of the fast-paced tracks, there is a degree of tedium in some of the weaker numbers. The sludgy plod of How Far We’ve Come Now is its nadir. Fortunately, Real Boy offers a welcome surprise with its lovely approximation of lilting gentle calypso that perfectly suits Goodman’s sweet voice. It’s Over Now is just as soft and tender and offers more insight into Goodman’s emotional state of mind as she plaintively cries “It’s not for you to understand” and “I don’t want you to be my man”.
Sees The Light is an album that frequently conjures up feelings of a bygone time and provokes memories of teenage love and passion and how much heartache can affect you at that age. These are sentiments that many people will be able to relate to. Despite its troupe of excellent songs there remains a disappointment, however, at the thinness of the sound at times. A track like the subtly menacing Drive On should soar, yet is hamstrung by a reedy, thin sound. It would have been nice to hear La Sera move on ever so slightly from that lo-fi garage sound, too. No matter; when Sees The Light truly soars you forget about niggles over production and sound and just enjoy the songs.
Sees The Light is a follow up album that cements Katy Goodman’s reputation outside of her regular group and sees her significantly develop as a lyricist and a songwriter. It does not do anything new or especially exciting, but what it does do it does very well indeed.