Whether it’s the self-cannibalization of acts like Greta Van Fleet or the advent of boneless pop-rockers like Imagine Dragons, 2010s rock has largely become over-polished, non-threatening and creatively bankrupt. It’s a state of affairs Angeleno LP (Laura Pergolizzi) combats on her fifth studio album. Having written songs for Rihanna and the Backstreet Boys, LP has plenty of credibility in the pop sphere. Heart to Mouth certainly abounds with accessible production and sticky melodic hooks, but LP’s palpable energy remains rooted in brazen rock and roll.
“Dreamcatcher,” “When I’m Over You” and “One Night in the Sun” set the tone for an incredibly diverse electro-acoustic outing. The distinct sonics of each cut hardly scratch the surface of how many rock and pop sounds Heart to Mouth covers. The first and third track have a strong respective basis in acoustic guitar and ukulele, while the second cut’s synthetic backbone harks to new wave. The sheer sonic breadth of this album is continually mesmerizing, ranging from serene orchestral passages, choral-esque voice samples and ever-present synth swells.
Whether it’s washy dream-pop, mid-tempo dance rock or harmonious three-count balladry, LP’s uncanny vocal talent effortlessly ties everything together. It’s incredibly challenging to spotlight Heart to Mouth’s standout vocal passages because her passionate performances never stop coming.
She has the perfect balance of melodic structure and emotional abandon, honing her unique timbre to a sound she can call her own. The familiar indie rock instrumentation on “Dreamer” and the Of Monsters and Men-ish four-on-the-floor of “Die for Your Love” both benefit from her controlled intensity. Where the blown-out backbeat of “Hey Nice to Know Ya” would likely have become formulaic if given to a lesser artist, LP uses well-timed leaps into high register and intentional rasps to elevate even the most familiar arrangements.
Even more compelling than Heart to Mouth’s strong performances are the variety of moods Pergolizzi creates. The self-explanatory party anthem “Girls Go Wild” is foiled by “The Power,” which explores the self-defeating nature of blind love: “I could dream and see from the garden of Eden, yeah/ Coiled snake on my way but I wouldn’t believe it, yeah.” Both tracks share an affinity for surf-rock single note guitar patterns and ‘70s jazz vision muted bass.
The heartfelt nature of the album reaches a rapturous head on the ethereal piano chords and tom-tom-heavy rhythmic crescendos of “Recovery.” This track simultaneously proves why Pergolizzi is such a sought-after ghostwriter and proves how she can present complex ideas in a relatable way. “I can’t stop sleeping in your clothes/ You can’t stop calling on the phone,” she sings of desperately needing a time of separation to get over the one who broke her heart.
The Reggaeton beat and romanticized chord progressions of “House on Fire” seem like they’d fit into any modern pop album, but LP’s whistled melodies and evolving bombast keep the song away from tired tropes. Similarly, the simple uptempo drums and bouncy synth of “Shaken” would fit in snugly on Taylor Swift’s 1989, if not for the way her battle cry voice leaps out of the mix. That’s really the charming focal point of this album: Pergolizzi reevaluating rock and pop as two sides of the same coin.
“Yeah, the money and the fame/ Is all bullshit in the end,” LP sings in the propulsive and multilayered closing track, “Special.” She’s obviously not interested in fitting into a scene or a style. Her considerable influence on the pop and rock world as a songwriter comes full circle as she bucks the musical trends she helped kickstart. These 12 songs have an infectious idiosyncrasy. Each sound is a confident representation of LP’s vision, but in the end, it boils down to a solid songwriter with an unforgettable voice.