The ghosts of all my LA fantasies live in this record. Calico Review is pure sunshine melancholia. It starts with a kick-drum heartbeat and a twanging surf guitar riff that grips your imagination, then walks you through the disillusionment and discomfort of the beaming LA rat-race. There’s a strange, beautiful comfort in the stories of lazy self-destruction and the sounds of collective nostalgia that make this record stick.
This third album from Allah-Las sounds like it could be their first. In a good way. It’s straight-ahead and grounded, but with a charming off-kilter strut, a departure from the band’s first two records, which were an extended fever dream of gorgeous beachy sound waves.
On Calico the band’s staple ingredients – crunchy guitars, blended harmonies, generous reverb and vibraphone – remain dutifully intact, but this outing is more earthy and more rock'n roll. It’s like the band took a right turn away from the beach to drive straight through all the strip malls en route to the desert.
They’ve perfected west coast surf pop for 2016 where everything old is here again if it ever really left, and threads of our heroes (the Pixies, Lou Reed, Love, the Kinks, MC5) weave through classic surf rock sounds. Allah-Las deftly balance their entrancing audio with the stone cold themes of our nagging anxieties, and it’s modern magic.