La Sera

With the succinct, thunderous drive of mid-career Blondie, “Losing to the Dark” is catchy, unrestrained, guitar-driven rock’n’roll the likes of which are not often heard here in 2014. From the feedback-friendly, multi-part introduction through the ear-catching major-minor shift in the pre-chorus and on into the fiery guitar solo, this one is three-plus minutes of adrenaline and purpose.

La Sera is the performing name of Katy Goodman, the bass player for the recently disbanded Vivian Girls, and while in the past looking to the ’50s and early ’60s for melodic inspiration, Goodman leaves the dreaminess behind for a shot of unblinking, contemporary reality. The title scans precisely to the Adele hit “Rolling in the Deep,” and as such (it’s a stretch but bear with me) I can’t help viewing this as a punked-up bookend to that song. Both singers mourn a failed relationship. While Adele is defiant to the point of vengeful, focused on the potential that has been cast aside, Goodman sees the loss as a morality play. Her erstwhile lover consumed by bad behavior, she starts sarcastic (“How ’bout you have another drink/So you can pass out in the back seat of my car?”), offers the faux sympathy of “What a pain it must be/To have to only be with me” at the song’s emotional and melodic fulcrum (first heard at 0:48), and then just lashes out at the real enemy, which isn’t the guy at all but human frailty itself. Adele is done with her lover because she’s better than him; in this song, the narrator is just as pissed off but also, in a weird way, more understanding. There’s a feeling of “There but for the grace of God go I” in here, which makes me think that maybe it’s Katy Goodman who is actually rolling in the deep.

“Losing to the Dark” is the lead track from the third La Sera album, entitled Hour of the Dawn, which comes out next week on Hardly Art. La Sera was featured previously on Fingertips in November 2010.