On Hour of the Dawn, the third La Sera album, ex-Vivian Girls bassist Katy Goodman radiantly emerges from her cocoon of fuzz. She’s still playing with girl-group tropes and echoes of ’60s pop, but she’s transformed them this time by going bigger and bolder than her self-titled debut’s bedroom psych or the sugared pop-punk of Sees the Light.
This time, with a new band that features former Rilo Kiley guitarist Tod Wisenbacker, Goodman’s ambitious songwriting vaults over late-’00s fuzz pop cliches and explores a wider range of influences, among them, ’80s punk and new wave. The Nancy Sinatra-meets-Wipers album opener “Losing to the Dark” switchblade-deflates a self-involved rocker boyfriend with lyrics like “Why don’t you write another song about how fun you are to drink with at the bar?” Other highlights, like the love-dazed rock ‘n’ roll ballad “Running Wild,” aim for weak-kneed, big-haired romance. The tales of reckless youth expand into anthems that could soundtrack a millennial remake of Rumble Fish or The Outsiders.
But there’s a deeper layer. The elegiac folk-pop melody and echo-laden vocals on the title track give existential weight to lyrics about the end of summer. It’s a wistful kind of afterglow, with a shadow or two creeping in. The album’s only flaw is that that there’s occasionally too much going on, but that’s easy to forgive. The surplus of ideas feels like a daydreaming teenage girl’s bedroom, cluttered and collaged with possibilities.