Louder, darker, better

It’s easy to gush over the Brilliant Green’s first two albums. The Brilliant Green and Terra 2001 are both very competent albums, sporting solid songwriting and very spirited performances.

But after a while, the shiny happy jangle pop of “BuriGuri” doesn’t allow a listener to really rock out.

The trio’s third album, Los Angeles, is quite a proverbial kick in the arse.

The band sounds alternately angry and haunted on this album, even when they attempt to retain the brightness of their first two works. But that louder, darker sound works.

“The Lucky Star” starts off quietly with a heavily distorted vocal, then bursts into a roar. “Yeah I Want You Baby” continues that outburst with some of the grungiest guitars the group has ever produced.

“Sayonara Summer is Over” and “Falling Star in Your Eye” take baby steps back to the lighter BuriGuri of the past, but other tracks such as the reverb-drenched “Hidoi Ame” and the solemn “Kuroi Tsubasa” ground the band in its beautiful blue funk.

Los Angeles concludes with “I can hold you hand, baby,” a blues-y, atmospheric track worthy of Mazzy Star.

It’s as if something happened to The Brilliant Green since it’s last album to give the world the sonic equivalent of an upraised middle finger, but they’ve wrapped that finger in a diamond-studded velvet glove.

This time around, only the song titles are in English. Singer Kawase Tomoko sings in Japanese on this album, and while the rest of band set the amplifiers to 11, Kawase maintains the sweet core that made the BuriGuri’s earlier songs such pop confections. Now, she’s the element that makes the band’s harder songs go down easier.

Los Angeles finds the Brilliant Green growing up and expanding. It’s nice to see a band that continues to top itself after achieving high after high.