THE LOUD BANGS’ Latest Album ‘Kiss Me There’: A Modern Shine Born Of Shoegaze And Alternative Adoration

Published on 22 August 2023 at 20:35

Words: Max Bradfield



Back at the start of July, The Loud Bangs released the final part of a trio of works – ‘Kiss Me There’. Following ‘Get Sent There’ and ‘The Never Never Forever and Ever’, ‘Kiss Me There’ is the last ten songs of this summer’s 30. Part of a spell of releases widely considered to be The Loud Bangs’ best work, this last album is a great addition to the Los Angeles’ group’s sonic resume. ‘Kiss Me There’ is a fine part of the band’s cult collection – and presents itself as part of a considered launching pad for whatever comes next. Effectively too, it’s seven highlights from the last four EPs and three new songs.


The album opens with ‘Spectral Field’ and this number sets the tone straight away – whether that be in ethereal song naming or in sound. Moreover, it’s actually one of my strong contenders for best track on the album. What a way to begin…


Listeners are welcomed to The Loud Bangs’ world with this shimmering curtain raiser. There’s a steady beat and this, rolling alongside three gain-drenched guitar chords, are about the only linear aspects of the song. They’re the last fibres of reality, strained and tearing – as ambient swirls and Alice Street’s words approach over and over… “I’m losing my mind”. This though, isn’t a bad thing, if these noises are to be the accompanying soundtrack to our spiralling state. Those three guitar chords are like a deviant, weirdly positive spin on the intro of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Seven Wonders’. Or that’s what I was reminded of anyway – an interesting, edgy slightly-removed relative you see at family gatherings. A sort of shoegaze cousin or something. Go on, have a chat with them, you won’t regret it…


The second song in the track list, ‘Candy Sometimes Always’, is yet another favourite of mine. (Boy, don’t they start their album strongly?) As ‘Spectral Field’ was, this song is another shoegaze homage – yet there are inflections of 90s alternative influences, especially in tone and tempo. With Street’s vocal swimming in a sea of thick guitar and rhythm, as well as “Candy?” filtering through – it’s just brilliant. Also, the way Alice’s voice comes forth from the mix… it just scratches the itch.


‘Eloctroprize’ follows and it’s a heavier, more brooding beast. Downstroke guitars are more guttural and a little intimidating in the space, thudding through what sounds like a sample from a news report or conversation. Vocals are incoherent and hard to trace, but the feeling is that this was purely intentional. As the band had stated clearly previously: 

Who needs lyrics to convey emotion? We can’t understand the words of My Bloody Valentine, or Cocteau Twins, or Sigur Ros, and we still get what they’re singing about. Honestly, we’re no good at lyrics so who cares?”

Message received.



'Sex Complex’ presents crisp bass and a more direct vocal. Guitar and synth skip nicely hand-in-hand in this one, yet in comparison to prior songs – it’s an all in one. In that sense, it feels as if there’s no real narrative to follow. It is an experience in noise. A constant. It feels like one of those songs that when played live could overrun the 4:15 run time easily if the band got lost in their own ethereal drive. 


Side one (or the first disc) comes to an end with ‘This Is a Japanese Robot’ and contrary to the tune before it – it’s a squirming audio journey. The most notable moving part is the dynamic pulsating 80s synth line that pushes the track into near-8-bit territory. Helping to drag us back into a gain-filled void though, are the sturdy downstrokes as well as keypad whizzing sound effects. Somewhat discordant guitar chords chopping away in the mix are a welcome addition – perhaps a slight nod to prog rock thought processes?


In the second half of the album, ‘Circus Mirror’ brings us back round as the pace allows the collective thought(s) to be collected. The bass line is brilliant, crawling through a barbed wire assault course of echoing strumming, vocal surges, and piercing lead electric notes. It holds about the same distortion as a Circus Mirror – how apt. I can imagine many moments of reflection whilst listening to this song. Walking out into the black of night. Looking for answers. 


Ex-Doll’ is next and presents ethereal key chords dancing a flirtatious approach with Street’s incandescent voice. Cutting through the mist like a jungle machete is this organ-like key line. Before the halfway point, it dies down into waves of distant guitar jabs and further vocal input. It rears its head at the end in a beautifully cyclic fashion as we touch down from our cosmic flight. 


Before we’ve even come back down to earth, ‘Pretty Checked Out’ flings listeners upward again. Very present guitar tones and a flying beat lure the audience into believing this could be an alt indie rock track. However, the Loud Bangs’ trademarks thus far come back to propel listeners into a stratosphere of uneasy chord flares and clouding vocals. Pair that with a sort of coming-of-age guitar riff in sections, the emotions really can jitter all over the place. 


Continuing this romantic fusion of time and emotion – The Loud Bangs look to blur the lines between reality and a sort of anemoia. Now, if you’re like me and had to look that word up; it’s effectively a nostalgia for a time and place that one has never known. This is what is felt when listening to ‘Avery Parkway’. It could be a skate park. A general hang out spot. Who knows, but the Los Angeles band? However on listening, there really is this soundscape created where you can picture a west coast sun-kissed place, caught up in the haze of teenage angst and passion.


Play Dates’ brings the album to a close. “I was quite dazed” as a voice note repeats, and that could be reflective of the audience after listening. The pace has dropped as gradually, we listeners get pushed gently out of the Loud Bangs’ audio space. We’re allowed back of course, it’s just such an experience. ‘Kiss Me There’ is a highly enjoyable listen. In parts, it presents a sound that surpasses their mere 5,000 monthly Spotify listeners. Also, it’s one that I can imagine being simply excellent in a live environment – where its full sonic prowess can spread its wings.