[Suicide Squeeze; 2020]

What is your first impulse whenever confronted with fear? Do you run for cover or do you face the unknown? Being alone in the crowd is not only an acquired taste but also a curse; yet insisting on standing simultaneously on your own and with your sisters is what ends up empowering your sense of purpose.

Carrying on with L.A. Witch‘s tradition of building a sonic wall out of heatwave hallucination, the trio’s second album Play With Fire dives deep in Death Valley mirage, complete with intense visions of reptiles and temporary insanity, inscribing itself as glass beads that shine and burn under a hellish sun. The album hits as aggressively and unexpectedly as leather car seats scorching your thighs, a hex you involuntarily (or not) put on your own self, a loss of innocence disguised as crossover ritual, involving fast classic cars and the great West mythology. The past runs after us in a daze, and we enjoy pretending we can escape it—yet we’re way too fascinated by our own demise. Because the worst nightmare is always the one that comes disguised as a wet dream.

As they proceed to re-use the shattered pieces of a mirror once clear enough to reflect civilisation, L.A. Witch take what’s left of the countercultural American Dream and magically transform it into something that still rings remotely exciting and appealing. This is a considerable feat if we consider how bleak the exercise of collectively looking back without overfantasising has become. 

But, it’s this disenchantment that transpires throughout Play With Fire, a tour de force lasting little over half an hour that urges you to stand up against all odds. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future,” guitarist and vocalist Sade Sanchez says of the album’s mission. “Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”

Raging with a steady purr, Play With Fire might be an obvious follow-up to their 2017 debut—but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful or interesting. The LP sees L.A. Witch solidifying their status as the cursed love children of Black Sabbath and The Shangri-Las, and that aura alone is enough to confer them power to plan a murder, or start a religion. I know I would subscribe in a second.