La Sera – Sees the Light

La Sera - Sees the Light

La Sera - Sees the Light

This is a solid, sonically beautiful album by Katy Goodman of the excellent band, Vivian Girls. The only flaw is that Goodman doesn’t stick to the stripped down sound of the first track (“Love That’s Gone”), and instead moves into faster paced, more guitar driven pop, as in the album’s early release, “Please Be My Third Eye.” The problem with her quicker stuff is that, while pretty, it tends to sound all the same; you end up desperate for the chorus, so that you can tell one song from another.

What’s more, on these type of songs, the comparison with Goodman’s work with the Vivian Girls comes back to haunt: the harmonies sound better with more and different voices, rather than Goodman being overdubbed several times back on herself. The songs from the Vivian Girls also have a little more edge on them, where the songs on Sees the Light are more polished, almost too a bright sheen. There’s little that’s rough in this album, although “I Can’t Keep You In My Mind” comes fairly close.

The end result is a prettier sound, but also a sound that’s hard to get a grip on. There are no corners, and one track slips smoothly into the next (except the song, “Drive On” which screeches to a sudden stop). The Vivian Girls are also, as a whole, much cheekier than Goodman on her own. The songs on Sees the Light can sound a little too earnest, and even a little sad. They border on taking themselves too seriously.

But this shouldn’t take away from Goodman’s achievement. She’s forged a sound distinct from her work with the Vivian Girls, and it’s a sound that can stand on its own. At her best, Goodman sounds like a one-woman Camera Obscura (or the underrated The School). When her voice is allowed to soar over the melody, as in the gorgeous “I’m Alone,” she surpasses them.