La Sera’s Hour of the Dawn could be the soundtrack to your summer
La Sera, the side-turned-primary project of former Vivian Girls bassist Katy Goodman, is one of those rare where not only can you make the argument that any one of their albums are the best, but also sound radically different. Where the 2011 eponymous debut album and 2012’s Sees the Light represent immaculately crafted dream-pop and immaculately crafted radio-friendly lo-fi fuzz, respectively, Hour of the Dawn represents a shift towards new wave-y power pop.
The album is full of dualities- dawn and darkness, control and chaos, whatever a “10 Headed Goat Wizard” is (mathematically speaking, that’s like five dualities right there), and most noticeably, Goodman’s smooth vocals and (lead guitarist) Todd Wisenbaker’s uncontrollable shredding. This interplay creates a sort of dramatic tension that keeps the listener at the edge of their seat wondering what’s going to come next— heartbreak or love, a vocal harmony or another hook.
Leading up to the release, Hour of the Dawn had been referred to with a bunch of different taglines, most notably “Leslie Gore meets Black Flag” and “Not another breakup album,” and while slogans tend to compress meaning and lose nuance, these prove surprisingly accurate. Hour isn’t really a breakup album (or at least, less of a breakup album than the other two La Sera albums), and musically it occupies the power pop middle ground of too punk to be bubblegum, and too bubblegum to be punk. Catchy acoustic hooks and vocal harmonies are paired with a driving beat and a rhythm guitar tuned to the key of “buzzsaw” to eschew conventional labels and transcend meaning into a state of being where the only relevant description is “just plain fun.”
Also, this album has a picture with cats on the back cover, which automatically means bonus points.