There’s a good reason for the sophomore slump: bands have their whole lives to work up to their first album and only a year or two to produce their second. La Mar avoids this slump by stepping up in every category.
The first thing we notice is a new logo. The old one was nice, but this one is stylized while the other was simply a font. The second is evocative artwork that conveys the name of the band, the feel of the music, and the title of the album. There’s a real sense of motion to the image, along with smooth and sharp edges: an apt reflection of the sounds within.
Now to the music. The album begins with the sounds of waves and thunder, underlining the theme. These influences arrive in the same order: first the waves of tone and note, then the thunder of riffs. This is true not only on opening track “Wanderlust” and lead single “Compass”, but throughout the album as well. Tides builds up to its payoff tracks, which are lodged in the center of the set. The first of these, “Guarimba”, follows the album’s quietest, most meditative track. Its sonic eruption begins with rapid drumming and extends to fierce guitar work. The energy level never lets up, as Fernando Rodriguez retains the percussive pace throughout. This is followed by “Oyster”, an understated piece with a keen sense of flow ~ again, like the tides. Then on “Flips”, it’s time to honor the bass; every band member gets some time in the sun. A slight reggae tinge is augmented by surprising trumpet, creating a perfect summer track. Closer “Diaspora” takes the band into more typical post-rock territory, offering eleven minutes of neap and spring, capped by screaming vocals; but the mid-album triptych is the most encouraging sign that the band is starting to develop into a singular entity. A solid second offering from the lads of La Mar! (Richard Allen)