Loma Prieta – Self Portrait (Deathwish Inc.)Thursday, 8th October 2015
San Francisco post-hardcore gents Loma Prieta have stated in a few interviews that their fifth album, Self Portrait, is more literal than their previous efforts. It’s true that the quartet heads up a very small number of stylized bands in hardcore with thought-provoking messages over physicality; a fact that should be lost on no one based on their previous effort I.V. Now, with Self Portrait, the edges are just as sharp and if you will, angular, but some of the lyrical guesswork is gone. Now, that doesn’t mean Loma Prieta have entered into basketball jersey/bandana-ville…it’s just different shades.
The oftentimes testy guitar work found on cuts like lead single “Love” (quite “love” the darting melodies running through the chorus) and “Black Square” can occasionally be found swamped in noise, which happens to the latter. It’s a vitriolic, hazardous number, where upon twin vocalists Brian Kanagaki and Sean Leary (both also man the guitars) engage in a cross-section of spiteful yelling. In and out that song goes; same with “Roadside Cross,” which boasts one of the album’s more jovial and uplifting guitar melodies, edging out the above-mentioned “Love” and “More Perfect” as the penultimate moment here. (Granted, one’s opinion of a song like “Roadside Cross” is totally dependent upon the ability to work with poppy-punk melodies, an underrated facet in Loma Prieta’s sound.)
Like most good, driving hardcore albums, Self Portrait doesn’t muck around or wallow in excess. The songs are trim and lean (fighting machines), with more than enough sizzle to amplify matters in the live setting. So, chalk Self Portrait as another ace for Deathwish, who even without Deafheaven to headline their fall release schedule (oddly enough, Self Portrait was recorded at the same studios where Sunbather was), should have no problem pushing ahead with Loma Prieta and friends.