On their second EP, Hi 5, Virginia Beach trio Ladada deliver five perky guitar-based songs (plus a bonus track) in a self-appointed genre they affectionately refer to as soda pop. It’s an appropriate moniker, given that the band’s sound on this handful of songs is consistently effervescent and sweet and once ingested will have the listener gleefully bouncing along to their upbeat music.
In a total running time of just under twenty minutes, Ladada come across like a tidier, more accessible surf-rock version of San Francisco garage rockers Thee Oh Sees. The songs on Hi 5 are varied just enough to showcase the group’s strengths as well as provide an idea of the range of moods they’re capable of demonstrating.
With an immediately catchy and simple chord progression, working in tandem with a hyper, bouncy rhythm section, “New Psych” kicks off the set. The song is a strong opener that at times brings to mind The Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road”. “Old Wave” is up next, and while similar in tempo to the record’s first track, is slightly moodier and significantly shorter, clocking in at under two minutes.
The record’s halfway mark is reached with “Electric River”. At this point, Ladada really begin to show off what they’re capable of. Just after the song’s effective guitar solo, singer Josiah Schlater emotes freely, letting out an energetic, sustained yell over a tense drumroll. Ladada continue to embrace their newfound sense of liberation on “Roll Back”, which is followed by the EP’s penultimate track, an instrumental surf-rock number titled “Tappa” that uses oohs and aahs in place of lyrics.
James Robert Smith’s bass and Calum Macpherson-Smith’s drums feature prominently on the album’s final song “Party”. As the pair deliver a driving rhythm, Schlater gradually enters in, dropping wavy surf guitar chords and sprightly lead riffs. The song builds until the trio arrive at an all-in back and forth free-for-all that has Ladada shifting tempos and literally whooping it up. It’s a thrilling grand finale that sounds simultaneously deliberate and improvisational. Although over far too soon, Hi 5 is a very strong release and a great introduction to this exciting band.