Last summer I spent a month in California. Having grown up in Canada's freezing tundra, the Hollywood-influenced notions of sun, summer, love, lust, and loss that embrace California dominated my mindset entering the summer, and my experiences, both positive and negative, were charged by those stereotypical concepts that enmesh the state. Listening to Los Angeles' West Indian Girl's debut is like revisiting that month in the sun, surf, self-consciousness, and sex that corrupted and enhanced my summer.

The opening two tracks, "Trip" and "What Are You Afraid Of?," stamp the Californian theme on the self-titled debut from the onset. Each tune wafts through ethereal, breezy, melodic pop that is heavy, embracing major toned synth work, moody vocal harmonies, and intricate guitar work. The theme expands even more as the tracks seem to breeze by, much like a picturesque sunset on Rodeo Drive. Stunningly honest "Hollywood," stating that "In Hollywood, your fears come out to play... what have you become... a love in love," creates a vivid picture of the industry that markets ideology, while "Still Lost" accentuates how lacking self control can lead to a depletion in fulfillment while trying to survive in one of the toughest cities in the world.

Through standard, four-minute pop songs, West Indian Girl has emotively crafted a vivid depiction of how good and evil coexist in Southern California, and of how the mixed potion affects the soul. Even though I only spent a month in the region, the themes on West Indian Girl's self-titled debut vindicate my experiences, as if the duo sits at the top of Sunset Drive, watching and documenting the lives that forever change on that street. This album sonically accentuates the spirit of Los Angeles: sunning, surf, relationships, sex, death, and loss - from the slums of Oakland to the beaches of the OC.

I'm glad someone kept a diary for me.

Shain Shapiro
JamBase | Canada
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[Published on: 5/20/05]

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