When you come into an instrumental album you might be left to wonder what kind of message the band is trying to get across, as there are no lyrics to directly guide you. Sometimes the album cover or title gives you some indication, and other times it just leaves you to figure it out for yourself. II, the second album by L.A. Takedown, comes adorned with a cover of a thumb and forefinger proffering a pill, most likely some kind of upper. That’s all the direction we’re given, aside from the band name, as the album title is simple. It seems like bandleader Aaron M. Olson’s way of saying, take whatever drug, smoke, hallucinogen, drink or whatever it is you use to cut loose, and just let us take you on a journey through their hypnotic vision of Los Angeles.

II offers a new, bigger sound for L.A. takedown, as Olson is now joined by six other people in his band, which now consists of three guitarists, two keyboardists, a drummer and a bassist. When listening to this album you can’t help but feel the infectiousness of the group sitting around together just jamming out these songs. The memory of Paul Rust and his friends in Netflix’s Love hanging out, laughing and making up goofy theme songs to movies springs to mind. Because there is something goofy – or maybe cartoony – about L.A. Takedown. There’s a technicolor sheen to their sound that puts it firmly in the cinematic, but it doesn’t have the serious edge of something like the soundtrack for Drive, although it shares a similar sound palette.

The opening double salvo of tracks, ‘First Thing’ and ‘Heatwave’, take us straight into their Los Angeles home and in traditional Californian style: speeding along a highway in a red convertible, top-down, shades on, wind blowing through our hair. 'L.A. Blue' is your obligatory ride along the coast, but just because it's cliche doesn't mean it doesn't pack the power to bowl you over with its beauty, and the band gives you that tangible feeling of beach-side bliss. The road stretches on endlessly, and the rest of the album seems to continue this path. We stay out there, cruising around until night falls and the neon lights come on. This is when the unusual and perhaps unsavoury character of the city sets in, as on ‘Bad Night at Blacks Beach’, which sounds like something from an 80s video game; creeping, shiny and squelchy in all the right ways.

When the three-guitar, two-keyboard attack is used to its fullest is when L.A Takedown really soar. The uncountable melodies and textures interwoven on ‘Us’ really brings to life the images of a flourishing attraction. Another highlight is ‘Night Skiing’, which sounds like the middle of the night when maybe you’ve taken a bit too much, and you’re slaloming along the road at high speed, weaving in and out of cars, not even noticing how close you are to a fatal collision. However, when the band slows it down and goes for the emotional, as on the acoustic-based outlier ‘Blue Skies (on Mars)’, or the slow build, as on ‘The Most Crucial Game’, things get a bit less exciting - though certainly not unpleasant.

The final song ‘Last Thing’ does incorporate vocals, although vocoded significantly to match the surroundings. It suggests at a future direction for L.A. Takedown; they bolstered their sound with the addition of many new instruments for this album, and it seems like they could comfortably and capably add vocals to the mix for their next outing. We’ll have to see what they decide to do, when they finally reach the end of that highway to the sky they seem to be riding all through II.