allmusic (US)

On her second solo album, Michaela Melián continues to explore the restrained but rich electronic sound of her debut, to the point that it almost seems like an adjunct to Baden-Baden, something certainly indicated by the cover design and title font. In fact, in one sense the album is a complete Xerox, since once again there’s a Roxy Music cover included — this time of that band’s stirring title track to its comeback album Manifesto, here turned into Melián’s one vocal showcase at the album’s conclusion, and like her cover of “A Song for Europe” giving it a distinctly Nico-like turn. Melián’s work here does seem to embrace rougher edges than the general form often readily allows, and if there’s a key difference between Los Angeles and Baden-Baden, it’s that the overt danceability of the earlier album has been turned into a much more subtle tone, where the emphasis feels more like the continuing echo of shoegaze blissout (and on “Sebastian,” late Spacemen 3) than anything else. Certainly the swirling rise of “Angel” might be one of the best examples of that continuing influence in electronic music, soaring loops and melody swathed in beautiful gauze, while a song like “Stein” brings in more overt guitar feedback, but again arranged as a tight cascading loop rather than as simply drone or free-form overload. There are low-key contrasts as well: the hissy fuzz of opening track “Locke-Pistole-Kreuz” sets a tone that a suddenly crisp, focused microbeat then transforms into something else entirely, from haze to dancing for tiny robots. Special note should also go to “Convention,” which in contrast to much else on Los Angeles is a sharp John Barry-in-spy-mode tribute, as well as having one of the biggest beats on the album — almost as if the Propellerheads were suddenly revived out of nowhere, but in a much different way.