The world doesn’t need more songs about California, but so long as star-struck noobs who have never seen a Hollywood actress eating at In-N-Out or experienced peyote keep moving there, we’ll keep getting them. So they had better be good. Examining the span of psychedelica’s history, the same theme of West Coast weirdos has been fleshed out ceaselessly, from The Doors downtrodden “People are Strange” to Lana Del Rey’s drink-the-Kool-Aid tune “Freak.”
Carrie Lane’s new EP California Freaks falls somewhere in between the two, but where Jim Morrison had his cult-leader bellow and Lana her sun-kissed whispers, Lane offers fiery cackles. Unsurprisingly, the singer’s third EP was borne of her move to America’s promised land, but the real key here is Lane’s vocals, which prove to be the sultriest part of her third EP — lascivious guitar licks included.
“You’re all I see underwater/Yeah you’re drowning me” her voice cracks on “Drowning,” perfectly in tangent with the pops and fizzles of a turntable needle that have been layered over the exotic pop tune. Lane plucked the title of the EP from a lyric earlier in the tune.
“’California Freaks’ is a lyric from the song ‘Drowning’ and it’s the best way I could describe how I was feeling when I moved to Los Angeles and was meeting all of these different …characters,” Lane says. “It felt like a ‘other worldly’ freak show/circus experience at first and that was how I chose to categorize the men and the city I was developing a love/hate relationship with.”
Beach bum infatuation is a common theme here; it spans from “If I Can’t Be With You,” where Lane poetically confesses “I’m 10,000 leagues into your blue,” to “Florida Keys,” a song dedicated to the glorious juxtaposition of “high rise jeans and low-slung palm trees.”
“I think musically I tend to lean in the direction of ‘Florida Keys,'” she adds. “It’s a pop song with a tropical twist on it, which I love, and it’s a song about being a dreamer, which is who I am at the core.”
As a whole, the EP is a mutt of pop subgenres; “Think About It” keeps the lyrics sunny over a trip-hop beat, while the much moodier “Drowning” narrowly skirts a reggae influence. Lane’s nautical motifs and throaty vocals glue it all together, though, in a compilation that’s a shoe-in for the theme song of the next LA-based MTV reality show. In a Coachella crowd of try-hards, Carrie Lane delivers — at least as far as this northerner can tell.
Listen to California Freaks below; Carrie Lane featured photo by Anna Lee Media.