Whether it’s the cynicism that comes from living in the shadow of Hollywood or the crushing boredom of it being sunny all the time, there’s something about Southern California that makes it a haven for goths. That morbid streak runs throughout the self-titled full-length from L.A. Witch, a garage-rock trio whose music sounds like it should be blaring from a ghostly Thunderbird as it disappears into the midnight mist.
Frontwoman Sade Sanchez’s voice has a narcotic haze to it, one that turns the album’s opening lines, “I’m going to hurt my baby tonight / If he don’t come home on time,” into the wail of a vengeful spirit. Smoky, sinister, otherworldly takes on classic surf, garage, and girl group sounds are the backbone of L.A. Witch’s sound, buoyed by the occasional sassy rockabilly riff—like the one that drives the kiss-off to an over-affectionate creep on “Untitled”—or a psychedelic guitar solo, like the one that bridges “You Love Nothing.”
The members of L.A. Witch toured for three years straight before recording a proper debut, and the lived-in ease that comes from long months spent playing together on the road comes through in the tight cohesion of Ellie English’s heavy, pounding drumming and Irita Pai’s propulsive bass. But the band’s years of experience are perhaps best reflected in Sade Sanchez’s guitar work, which elevates songs like the dream-pop of “Baby In Blue Jeans” and album closer “Get Lost” by cutting through the haze with clarion assurance. On their debut, the three weird sisters in L.A. Witch have conjured up a sexy, enigmatic album that looks forward by looking back.