It’s not a story new to music: Band records solid debut album, gains traction in their hometown scene, moves to Los Angeles to pursue international superstardom, gets blissed out on SoCal’s slow-roll pace and perpetual sun, adopts corresponding laid-back attitude, and finds creativity levels compromised. The music suffers; the second album is weak; the band fades back into obscurity. The end.
Like many musicians before them, Melbourne, Australia-bred band Miami Horror has indeed found increased levels of personal contentment since posting up in L.A. a few years back. But the blue sky brightness of SoCal culture hasn't inspired a descent into blissed-out drivel, but rather an advancement of the breezy indie electronic sound first heard on their 2010 debut Illumination.
“Obviously because it is sunny all the time, you feel relaxed and happier and end up writing dreamier music,” says the group’s producer and founding member Ben Plant. “That’s the biggest turning point, probably; the album sounding a lot dreamier.”
The album he’s referring to is All Possible Futures, Miami Horror's sophomore effort, released this past April. Travelers driving east on the 10 towards Palm Springs will see a billboard for the LP just past the Cabazon exit, the one with the dinosaur statues.
All Possible Futures is indeed dreamy, with an art-deco album cover that looks like an Instagram taken somewhere in Venice and the sound and feel of a sustained serotonin rush. It is not, however, without weight, depth of feeling, or standout tracks — particularly the lush “Forever? Ever?”and the funk jam “Love Like Mine” — that grow more appealing with each listen.
“We want it to be an album that after two listens, you want to play it more and can listen to it for five years and be finding new tracks,” Plant says. “It’s an album that can grow with a person.”
All Possible Futures has hints of Talking Heads and Tame Impala-style psychedelia, playing at times like the soundtrack to a smoked-out afternoon in Topanga. With an appearance by L.A. songstress Gavin Turek, loads of beachy ‘80s synths, and moments that might inspire listeners to cruise PCH with all the windows rolled down, All Possible Futures is indeed a very local album, and indicative that the four men who made it are enjoying their time in the City of Angels.
Plant formed Miami Horror in Melbourne in 2007, but he and his bandmates have been living here on and off for the past three years. While there has been a mass immigration of Aussie electronic musicians and DJs to L.A. in the past few years (including Anna Lunoe, Cut Snake and Alison Wonderland), Plant says the band doesn’t pal around with any of the Australian expats, hanging instead with homegrown acts like Classixx and Goldroom.
As Plant tells it, the relocation has been liberating.
“Melbourne is a lot more of a critical, high-pressure place, which is good in a lot of ways,” he says over the phone, his accent emphasizing his slow cadence and deliberate choice of words. “Being in L.A. just let us feel like we could experiment more and do anything we wanted. You can feel free from the constraints of your scene.”
With this new ease, however, came a new artistic worry. “That was a thing I was actually scared about: just being too happy and not being critical enough to restrain myself from certain things.” Plant admits that the new album is, in moments, too upbeat for his taste, but that's OK; they'll reel in the love and light on the next one.
Meanwhile, Miami Horror is on tour, road testing new material and reintroducing themselves to audiences who may have forgotten them in the five years since their debut. While Plant says the group could play larger venues, they’re doing club shows to re-build their fan base and create a sense of intimacy — and, hopefully, a sweatier experience on the dance floor. With a stronger sense of camaraderie within the band than ever before, this tour is really about having fun and introducing fresh music to new audiences.
Plant just hopes the new songs make audiences as happy as they've made his group.
Miami Horror plays The Roxy on Friday, June 5.