New Music Of The Day: LA Girlfriend – ‘XIV’

“To the wild I surrender.”

So says the battle cry on the front page of LA Girlfriend’s recently relaunched website. The nom de plume of Sydney Banta is certainly a full-on one, but even more striking is her control amid the chaos.

She’s still only 23 but possesses unusual command and confidence in her music. Some might say her Neon Grey LP, self-released on Bandcamp in February, represents a culmination of her five years of recording as LA Girlfriend, but there’s still a feeling of potential that she’s only just beginning to unlock (she makes no promises as to when a physical version of ‘Grey’ might be available).

Weirdly, Banta cites both Depeche Mode and Iron Maiden as having equal influence on her sound. Even weirder? She’s not wrong. The slick gothic new wave of Depeche Mode may be the more obvious antecedent, though the muscular, metallic aggression of Iron Maiden acts as something of a spiritual guide on songs like ‘XIV’ and ‘Monsters Of Habit’. It’s an ambitious gambit. Like her aspirational name – a reference to the “ultimate dream girl” – Banta doesn’t completely inhabit the role, but that’s also precisely the point. Perfection would ruin the illusion she’s after.

Word is, justifiably, starting to spread around her adopted hometown of Los Angeles. According to reports, her recent record release party at Resident was uncomfortably jam-packed. Banta charmingly chalks it up to the advertisement for free pizza that night, but she knows better. Angelinos would never have suffered musical transgressions for the promise of free pizza. Tacos, maybe.