It’s no secret that, of late, many indie bands have been looking back to 80’s popular new wave for inspiration. Call it dream pop or chillwave or whatever you like—the similarities in sound + style are pretty undeniable. The trick if you’re going to do this, of course, is throwing in a new twist so you’re not just regurgitating what some of us are old enough to have heard the first go ’round.

Lately, we’re hearing a few good takes on this sound coming out of LA. There’s Sky Ferreira, who we wrote up a few weeks back (and, yes, now lives in NYC, but whatevs), then there’s Los Angeles’ Kisses, made up of duo Jesse Kivel (right) + Zinzi Edmundson (left). And yeah, right? Zinzi’s an awesome name. Well-played, Zinzi’s parents!

We enjoyed the band’s 2010 debut, The Heart of The Nightlife, but we couldn’t quite get past the overly 80’s pop facade. Maybe we’ve changed, maybe they have, or maybe we’ve been LA-brain-washed, but we’re feeling the band’s follow-up, Kids in LA (out tomorrow).

Where Nightlife hooked us every now + then with some solid song-writing, the end sound was just a little too hollow + uncertain as to what it wanted to be, especially in the percussion department. And, whereas Kids is no less 80’s-sinpired—it may be even more so—it seems to have fully embraced its own sound and, overall, feels more full in sound + fully developed in song-writing. From the album bio:

“Kids In LA is a departure from the luminosity of their first album, focusing instead on the starker wintertime in Southern California. While The Heart of the Nightlife took listeners on a neon-hued journey through Palm Springs at peak vacation season, Kids in LA inverts that thematic motif, opting to explore the empty and slightly-haunted off-season of the vacation world. The glimmering parties and easy social experiences of the first album make way for the disquieting stillness and vacuous silences of abandoned beach chairs, covered pools, and peeling wallpaper.”

Fair enough, but their wintertime is like our early summer. I bet there’s not a frost warning there tonight.

Listen to “Hardest Part” from Kids in LA (below) + see if it leaves you feeling cold. If not, check it out on iTunes or pre-order the vinyl + (yes) band-sanctioned Hawaiian shirts from Kisses’ label, Cascine. The band is on tour now, playing San Francisco tomorrow night followed by a few more western destinations before jaunting over to Japan + then coming full-circle—I assume? I don’t know how planes work—to play Brooklyn’s very own Cameo Gallery during the Northside Festival next month. You can see their full show listing on the band’s Facebook page.

Top photo by David Kitz; photo below by David Studarus.