Warmed Up to ‘Sun’
A band’s second album can be the kiss of death, especially if following a smashing debut album. This classic second-album slump has the potential to become an existential crisis for musicians. Do they repeat the vibes and melodies that made the debut such a success and risk seeming one-note? Or do they do something completely different and original, thereby possibly sacrificing their fan base for their own artistic vision?
Certainly the Los Angeles natives in Allah-Las faced this struggle themselves when sitting down to write “Worship the Sun,” the follow up to 2012’s self-titled debut album. In the case of Allah-Las, however, they managed to find a perfect compromise between those two possible extremes. “Worship the Sun” keeps all of the classic surf rock style fans fell in love with originally, while enhancing their sound with touches of the contemporary, keeping each of the 14 (if counting the two bonus tracks) exciting and fresh.
In many ways “Worship the Sun” is the perfect blend of the old and the new. Every track oozes 1960s Laurel Canyon cool, with enough millennial punch to maintain a sense of modernity. By melding punk, psychedelic and even folk so harmoniously, it obliterates all notions of what “genre” means altogether.
“Worship the Sun” finds its sunshine moments in the instrumental tracks. “Ferus Gallery” and “Yemeni Jade” depict a dreamy endless summer, so that even landlocked listeners can catch some waves and soak up the sun. These stranger titles immerse listeners in a planet of beaded curtains, burning incense, relaxation and wonder.
Singer Miles Michaud shows off his vocal chops in “Nothing to Hide,” a standout track that mixes a catchy melody with compelling lyrics and a touch of quirk. “501-415” is conversely all quirk—two minutes of fun absurdity, captured in the song’s lo-fi music video.
It is perhaps the bonus tracks that are most reminiscent of Allah-Las, with single “No Werewolf” providing the perfect transition between albums one and two. The music video for the 7-inch LP is also worth a view. Combining spinning vinyl imagery with Buddhist mandala artistry, the video sums up exactly what Allah-Las are about: old-school philosophy for 21st century young audiences.
Allah-Las personify the openness and easy-going mentality associated with Southern Californian musicians; just give them some sun, a beach and their instruments, and these guys will be just fine. It’s an attitude anyone can and should embrace in 2014, when technology and electronics plug everyone so far in they can no longer even see the sun shining. So, get the “Worship the Sun” record—not the mp3 download—take some time to be alone in a calm setting and just listen. Absorb the ideals of loving good music, appreciating the natural beauties of Mother Earth and forgetting all about that midterm coming next week—even for just half an hour. For anyone who needs to achieve more mental and spiritual peace, “Worship the Sun”provides a surefire cure.
“Worship the Sun”is out now on Innovative Leisure; encapsulating everything cool about living in Southern California, Allah-Las introduces this sound to younger listeners at home and around the world. Currently on tour, catch Allah-Las bringing surf rock to the masses live.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: you like The Growlers, Donovan, The Drums and DIIV.