ALLAH-LAS - ZUMA 85

ALLAH-LAS - ZUMA 85

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Released: 13/10/23

On the Californian quartet Allah-Las’ first three albums, beginning with the self-titled debut in 2012, it was not hard to trace the influences; indeed, they seemed to be worn defiantly on the band’s collective vintage denim sleeve: groups such as The Zombies, The Kinks and The Yardbirds, and a dash of 60s West Coast garage psych, with the infatuation extending to the lo-fi, reverb laden production … . So far, then, so unremarkable. But in amongst all of this pastiching, and what set the group apart from many of their peers operating within the same musical parameters, was an undeniable ability to write really good songs.

On the group’s fifth album, Zuma 85, the top-drawer songcraft is still much in evidence, and thankfully the group have decided to rethink their unswerving fidelity to a production sound whose overriding goal seems to have been: ‘Make it sound like it was recorded in a particularly capacious dustbin.’ There was a sense of this happening on the preceding 2019 LP LAHS, and on album number five it’s been fully embraced, so that the excellent songs hit like a shaft of Technicolor light, rather than streaks of monochromatic rain. Sure, the devotion to the aforementioned British invasion groups is still evident, and there are also a lot of nods to the cooler end of 70s AM rock radio, such as late Velvet Underground – most notably on the great opener ‘The Stuff’ – but there’s no denying that Allah-Lahs are, in their own way, embracing modernity, allowing the band's personality to come roaring to the fore. And as a bad motherfucker once said, "personality goes a long way".