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La Luz: News Of The Universe – Album Review

La Luz: News Of The Universe

(Sub Pop)

LP | CD | DL

Out 24th May, 2024

La Luz: News Of The Universe – Album Review


La Luz return with album number five; a blissful psych exploration of embracing love in a changing world. Their most ambitious to date.

When La Luz released their second album back in 2015, Ged Babey found himself getting lost in their blend of twanging surf psych, stating that “All my worries and all the petty everyday shit just melts away. Nothing else exists other than the hazy lazy beauty of this band’s music.” Through 2018’s Floating Features and on to their self-titled fourth album in 2021 he fell deeper under their spell, finally opining that “The music business goes on around them, yet they are head and shoulders above it all, making seemingly effortless music which is immediately identifiable and peerless.” He could not have been more on the ball. On their new album, News Of The Universe, the band have continued their sonic journey, travelling further out into the ether, leaving behind that which tethered them to the ground.

Every song floats effortlessly, their gorgeous harmonies once again part of the key to unlocking the beauty around us. But gone it seems, for now, are the guitars that pierced the haze; the twang replaced with six-strings that chime and charm in equal measure, floating along beneath like currents that guide the waves, occasionally surfacing with a deep fuzz that reminds us of their power. In doing so, and in continuing their development, they have written an album that sounds immediately like a 60’s lost treasure.

After the brief acapella intro of Reaching Up To The Sun, they come bounding in with the single Strange World, tumbling toms and a deep-psych guitar riff casting waves that crash over us in tomentous times, before they suddenly drift off, the hypnotic voice of Shana Cleveland imploring us to “look alive in a strange world.”  It soothes as the song develops into an instrumental breakdown midway through, implying a running threat beneath the surface, but she reminds us that “we’ll be fine. Just take your time.” The song feels at once personal yet universal and, given the singer’s personal joy and despair in recent years (she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years after the birth of her son), one that transmits defiance in the face of destruction.

The album shines in its timelessness, sounding like it could have been written any time in the last five and half decades. On much of it, they recall the sound of the classic one-album psych band, The United States Of America. It’s a reference point that continues and is reinforced as they move into the blissful Dandelions with its sweeping synths, jazz-inflected rhythm section and again, Cleveland’s voice recalling Dorothy Moskowitz at her most exquisite. Lyrically, it also harks back to that album; the song a rumination on the cycle of life, of nature connected as the flowers represent suns soon to close as night draws in.

The band’s ability to draw you into their music really captivates. Songs like Poppies, Moon In Reverse, and the astoundingly beautiful album closer Blue Jay are prime examples. On the latter, the simplicity of sound is a new key. Shorn of harmonies and the lush instrumentation that mark most of the album, Cleveland’s voice is left alone, a single acoustic guitar to accompany her and, in that moment, there is nothing between you and her; no rush, no hustle, no chaos; only time, brief and precious.

When moving all together as one on the same groove, we’re gifted with songs like Good Luck With Your Secret and Close Your Eyes, both songs that remind us of the ever-growing strength of the US psych scene, one where bands like Elephant Stone, Night Beats, The Black Angels continue to mine the desert to the West Coast heritage, from the Chihuahuan to Haight-Ashbury. However, among such company, La Luz still stand out as being able to produce albums of hypnotic beauty, more so here on the sublime I’ll Go With You. The harmonies are simultaneously haunting and soothing, but it’s the subtle guitar runs underneath everything that draw you deeper inside the song.

La Luz continue to forge their own path and News Of The Universe is a further step on an increasingly expansive journey, one that sees them continually questioning themselves and the limits to be broken. Born out of struggle, on News Of The Universe they have found a way to create beauty in strife.


Words by Nathan Whittle. Find his Louder Than War archive here.

Nathan also presents From The Garage on Louder Than War Radio every Tuesday at 8pm. Tune in for an hour of fuzz-crunching garage rock ‘n’ roll and catch up on all shows on the From The Garage Mixcloud playlist.

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