L.A. Witch Credit: Courtesy the Artist

If it were released in any other year, L.A. Witch’s new Play With Fire would be the perfect album to blast through the car stereo with the wind in your hair while indulging in an adventure with your best pals. Unfortunately, summer 2020 has proved to be far from carefree, but while the trio’s nostalgia-tinged mix of indie rock, garage, punk, and country can twinge the heartstrings over what we’ve lost, a feel-good record like this can also remind us that it’s still possible to feel good. Opening track “Fire Starter” kicks off with power pop so innocuous you might wonder if the title is a mistake, but then the band flips the switch into turbocharged guitar acrobatics. “Motorcycle Boy” charms with 60s girl-group flair, complete with Ronnie Spector-style vocals from guitarist Sade Sanchez. L.A. Witch are known for slipping in and out of different genres, and on Play With Fire they do so as easily as surfing through radio stations, indulging their psychedelic-country leanings on “Dark Horse” and “Maybe the Weather” and showcasing a penchant for 90s indie rock on “True Believers.” It may seem unwise to tempt the fates more than one has to these days, but L.A. Witch make nihilistic rebellion sound irresistible on the gritty garage-punk banger “I Wanna Lose.” It’s fun to imagine the possibilities if the group ever dedicated an entire album to any one of these styles, but Play With Fire also reminds us why mixtapes and classic FM radio still have such cultural resonance, even in an age of streaming platforms. Why choose one flavor when you can have them all?   v