L.A. garage psych revivalists the Allah-Las didn't mess around with their winning formula much on their second album, 2014's Worship the Sun. Working with retro-leaning producer Nick Waterhouse again, the quartet can still effortlessly crank out chiming ballads that sound worthy of a strong volume of Pebbles, dish out moody midtempo tracks that have the feel of classic West Coast bands like the Chocolate Watchband, and take the occasional instrumental detour that come off like surf music that's been dragged through some desert dust.
It definitely feels like an extension of their debut album, only instead of being a retread, it's an improvement. Stronger songs, vocals that lean a little less on the snotty side of the garage in favor of some nuance, and slightly softer focus production mean that the album is a slight bit of an improvement. The band's songcraft feels sharper and more focused, whether it's the near-rollicking "Artifact" (half borrowed from the Chocolate Watchband's "Are You Gonna Be There [At the Love-In]"), the slowly swaying ballad "Nothing to Hide," which anchors the middle of the record like a big fat teardrop, or the album's title track, which manages to make melancholy sound sun-kissed and peaceful.
Along with this overall strengthening of their core, the group mixes in a couple off-speed pitches, like the countrified jangle pop gem "Better Than Mine" that beats the Beachwood Sparks at their own game, or the psychedelic bubblegum rocker "501-415," that give the album the little bit of growth and expansion it needed to sound fresh. No one will ever accuse the Allah-Las of being particularly original or exciting, but that's not really what they're aiming for. If you were to call them revivalists who found a tiny niche of the garage rock scene that nobody else was exploiting, and revived it with a charmingly relaxed and assured style, then you'd be dead right. On Worship the Sun, their subtle excavation is even more impressive, richly rendered, and worth checking out than before.