The California psych-rock scene has birthed one of the widest ranges of musical atmospheres of any community from the last 20 years. On one end of the intensity spectrum, bands and artists like Oh Sees and Ty Segall often utilize two drummers to simulate a hellish race to psychosis. As a counterpoint, the Los Angeles fourpiece Allah-Las induces a breezy, hypnotic dissociation through lethargic guitars and playful 1960s garage-rock energy.
Allah-Las has only released three albums since its 2012 self-titled debut, a record whose dirty recording quality and overwhelming noise perfectly encapsulated the do-it-yourself attitude of most psychedelic bands in the last 10 years. The next two releases, “Worship the Sun” and “Calico Review,” released in 2014 and 2016 respectively, displayed a boost in fidelity but maintained the unpredictability resemblant of four creative guys hanging out in the studio just laying down whatever comes to mind.
“LAHS,” the fourth album released by the band and the longest release to date, clocking in at just under 45 minutes, released Oct. 11 with little press or promotion. The cover art features two photographs of Everglades-like tropical scenery with various passport stamps scattered around the remainder of the signature red backdrop. Like the cover art implies, “LAHS” is the band’s most foreign album to date. Much of the record seems to have been swept up in a Spanish sea breeze and gently placed into the listener’s ears. It’s a release beleaguered with peaceful laziness that almost needs to be listened to in a wicker chair on the porch of a beachfront house, peach in hand.
The album’s opener, “Holding Pattern,” immediately captivates with its repetitious, delayed guitar riff that billows like curtains in an open window and continues throughout the entire song. The riff is accented by several other guitars placed here and there throughout the mix, resulting in a peaceful and undeniably psychedelic aura. Even the lyrics of “Holding Pattern” send listeners on vacation. “Holding pattern/Found a place in the shade/For all your yesterdays/ Holding pattern/Madame lost in the haze/Of her endless holidays,” lead vocalist Miles Michaud breathes.
While “Holding Pattern” has some truly memorable guitar riffs, the most catchy track is surprisingly written in Portuguese. “Prazer Em Te Conhecer” is the album’s second single and was released with a vibe-heavy, lo-fi music video chronicling the band’s trip to Portugal. Like most artist’s ventures into foreign language songwriting, the translation is extremely simple, but effective.
The band gives its own intended translation in the video’s description — “Nice to meet you/Do you have a name?/Took time, but now I'm here/Nice to meet you/Such a long trip.” The ambiguity of the lyrics to anyone who isn’t versed in Portuguese adds to the exploratory nature of the track, and the weeping slide guitar riff that takes the place of a chorus exemplifies the excitement of watching mountainous scenery pass by from the window of a Cessna, peach, again, in hand.
“LAHS” does an exemplary job of putting the listener in an environment that fits Allah-Las’ artistic flair, with the adoption of some Spanish influences and lyrical choices. Unfortunately, there are far fewer catchy moments on “LAHS” than on the band’s previous efforts, causing the album to be hard to listen through unless one is in just the right mindset. The laid-back nature of the album makes it a great one to study alongside, but certain hyper-engaged ears might be met with dissatisfaction.