7/10 Following last year’s self-titled debut, Katy Goodman brings us a second helping of solo material as La Sera. And this time round, judging by the track titles and open-hearted lyrics, the Vivian Girls bassist is coming to us on the back of a fairly significant break-up. That what is essentially a concept album themed around a couple splitting up should sound so airy, upbeat and straight-out perky in places is perhaps an indication that the right decision has indeed been made, and that Goodman is benefitting from that wonderful sense of freedom that can come from extricating yourself from the wrong relationship. Sees The Light, indeed.
The album starts with the defiant lines “I love my life without you” (‘Love That’s Gone’), and Goodman restates a version of this assertion several times on different tracks, from the almost sympathetic “I know you must be lost these days” of ‘I Can’t Keep You On My Mind’ to the fairly conclusive “I don’t want you to be my man (…) You’ll feel better once we’re not together ‘cos it’s over now” of ‘It’s Over Now’. The only note of ambivalence or hint at a slipping of her resolution appears on ‘Driven’ – significantly, the album’s most negative sounding track, musically – which seems to be a kind of ‘Thelma & Louise’-style fantasy of mutual self-destruction, as Goodman pleads “Drive off the edge with me, my love / I’ll hold you while I sleep.”
‘Driven’ may be set in a minor key, and comes accompanied with a set of ominous twangs and darker guitar sounds, but the rest of Sees The Light is markedly upbeat. La Sera merges a kind of sunny understated country twang (‘Love That’s Gone’, ‘I’m Alone’) with some lovely, faintly scuzzy power-pop, her guitar providing just enough edge to keep things the right side of saccharine without deflecting too much from the positivity of the music. If you have a fond place in your heart for The Go-Gos (‘Please Be My Third Eye’, ‘I Can’t Keep You On My Mind’, ‘Break My Heart’), or have ever wondered how a female-fronted Lemonheads might sound (‘How Far We’ve Come Now’), then you will find much to enjoy here.
On the album’s best tracks – the gently ambulatory ‘Love That’s Gone’, the cute ‘I’m Alone’ with its sweet cascade of harmonies, the glorious squall of ‘How Far We’ve Come Now’ – and, indeed, on the rest of this sweetly wise record, Goodman succeeds by dint of the simplicity of her song construction. There are no unnecessary self-indulgences, segues or flights of fancy on these tracks – just well-structured, charmingly sung, honestly stated and presumably cathartic articulations of tenderness, resolution, loss and optimism. Rarely has a break-up sounded so sweet, and so right.