Label: Satellite of Love Release date: 28/06/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon Alba Lua say they are a French band, yet have Spanish names separated by the typical Spanish word for and (“y”). It’s a bit confounding, but helps add to the dream pop melancholia that lies underneath the reverb washout that is Ballad of Joseph Merrick. Often gentle, sometimes massive, always enveloping, Alba Lua have managed to get a lot of bang for three songs. I professed my appreciation of Beach Fossils earlier, and am a shoegaze and dream pop fiend when it’s spot on. Take second tune ‘Sungaze.’ Upon first approach the song is halfway between Beach House (those vocals and organ) and the primal stomp of some of those Velvet Underground and Nico tunes. Sure at times it seems like Alba Lua are a bit too slow for their own good (the titular track wallows in its own intro for ninety seconds), or that they are happy to play gentle music with little experimentation, but it’s true. This isn’t a release to solidify them as a band known for that – this is sun indebted, ‘verbed out pop at its core, retextured and packaged as a perfectly acceptable and enjoyable piece of indie/dream pop. There’s no distortion, and each song often builds to a cathartic explosion for the last thirty seconds, vital time considering no song here is over 3’52”. So while the ending of ‘Valley of Abra’ channels Thee Oh Sees and Stereolab, it’s only for the amount of time needed to let it soak in before the outro drops into a gentle fade of synth and guitar, ringing out. Alba Lua also prove that they can write a damn nice song about the Elephant Man and not be Mastodon – they even manage to bring some humour into the mix. “I’m the Elephant Man…my head is bigger than yours,” provides some levity in a vaguely sad paean to the famous freakshow man. Given the nature of the delicate highly pitched vocals, it’s hard not to view each song as a bit downtrodden, and the mood aids the disc from ever seeming too sunny or overly happy (an important thing that saves ‘Valley of Abra’). Overall, it’s a toothsome treat. Good job, Alba Lua. You managed to make something truly pleasant just in time for summer days where lounging to soft music is required. Keep it up, sirs! Photobucket