Punk rock trios are something of an endangered species these days. California’s LA Witch (Sade Sanchez, Ellie English, Irita Pai) have been around for about 10 years, releasing almost one single per year and three albums – of which Play with Fire is their third. Progression and development are very much part of their modus operandi.
Musicians whose influences include Joy Division, The Cramps, Nirvana and (lead singer Sanchez has said) "any band Nick Cave was ever in" are bound to create an identifiable sound. Influences notwithstanding, Play with Fire sifts through genres with aplomb – from fuzzy dream pop and gnarly garage rock to classic 1960s girl-group tunes, cosmic country and psych-folk.
Storylines can get a tad cliched here and there (disappointingly, Motorcycle Boy actually does tip its greasy hat to Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Mickey Rourke), and the singing too easily conjures up a drone-shaped mash-up of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid. The whole is more persuasive than the sum of its parts, however, and when it kicks (Gen-Z, Maybe the Weather, True Believers), the bruises last for weeks.