By now, most know the story of Laura Pergolizzi – a.k.a LP – the Long Island native who went from critically acclaimed-but-hard-on-her-luck singer-songwriter to renowned songwriter for the superstars, penning or co-writing hit songs for Rihanna (“Cheers (Drink To That)”), Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful People”), Heidi Montag, and a host of others. It was not just Pergolizzi’s ability to write powerful ballads or hook-filled, sugary pop songs that attracted singers and labels to her. It was also her honest and poignant lyrical style combined with her cinematic and dramatic approach that made her a star behind the stars.

Her third full-length album as a solo artist, Forever for Now – which was released nearly a decade after her sophomore record, Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol – finally gave Pergolizzi the fame she deserved and the recognition that followed. Like her first two albums and songwriting efforts, Forever for Now was not the typical pop album, but one that stood out from the rest for its personal, true, and relateable stories and cinematic soundscapes. It was LP at her best – an artist who was ahead of her game.

With this reputation, her new EP, Death Valley, is a bit puzzling. The mini-album still possesses the euphoric and stunning ballads we have become accustomed to hearing. “Lost On You” is a titanic track. Radiating with the lushness of Mazzy Starr played over a cinematic, spaghetti-western vibe, Pergolizzi may have written the love song of the year. “Other People” shimmers with a Gloria Gaynor-esque, disco-pop tune with its warm and body-swaying melody, although the lyrics are forthright and to a point brutally honest. As Pergolizzi sings, “We had a love without a shred a doubt; we never worried about other people. You broke the spell and wanted something else, well go fuck yourself with other people.

The title track offers some of the ingenuity expected from Pergolizzi. With a splash of Janis Joplin played over an Eagles-esque pop-rock vibe, “Death Valley” is a vibrant song about youth’s vitality and sense of invulnerability. “She said we’re never going to die“, sings LP with a touch of hesitation and regret.

The EP’s other two songs due fall short. “Muddy Waters” is an electro-pop-soul track that mixes in a touch of gospel to give the track a haunting quality. While the song represents a new sound for Pergolizzi, it feels too familiar, as if LP is playing catch up to the likes of Lana Del Rey, Rihanna, and Alessia Cara. Lyrically, though, the story is pretty great, as the song tells the tale of a lost soul trying to find her way once again. “Strange”, likewise, is a familiar, dramatic pop song where the productions are over-emphasized, stealing away from the raw emotion that we have been accustomed to hearing from LP.

Death Valley gives the impression that Pergolizzi is at a crossroads in her career. There are some stirring and brilliant songs, namely “Lost On You” and “Death Valley”, but at the same time the EP contains songs that are pretty standard pop fare. It is an EP that could see LP receive much more commercial success, but it falls short of the forward-thinking singer-songwriter we have come to love.

Death Valley is out now on Vagrant Records.

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LP Death Valley EP

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