by John Tindale
Sunlit Youth feels an apt name to call a Local Natives record; the imagery of joy with the hint of melancholy is an art which the Silver Lake quintet have perfected since the release of the superb Gorilla Manor in 2009. It was an exuberant piece of indie-rock which rollicked with harmonies, while 2013 follow-up Hummingbird saw the band take time to create subtle textures in a record which unfurled itself with each listen, revealing a charming record. Third record Sunlit Youth sets its stall out early with single ‘Villainy’. Themes of changing, heavy uses of percussion and a bitter-sweet tone brought to the forefront excellently by the vocals of Taylor Rice result in a satisfactory opening to the most complete Local Natives record yet.
The record breezes into the pop territory of Miike Snow and Day & Age-era Killers, but finds a way to sound fresh at every turn. Lead single ‘Past Lives’ builds contemplatively during each verse before climaxing at each chorus to a glorious rapture. While ‘Fountain Of Youth’ rattles along to a stop/start rhythm that evoke textures similar to Dog Is Dead. The layering of guitars and percussion recall Hummingbird, while Rice gives one of his more sorrowful vocal performances.
Tonally Sunlit Youth pushes itself more than previous records with the use of electronics in ‘Jellyfish’ providing a mid-album highlight, whilst the distortion of the preceding ‘Masters’ challenges the listener more than any track on the record. Ultimately this is a record which constantly tries to find an anthemic hook; ‘Mother Emanuel’ and ‘Everything All At Once’ belong in the live setting with beaming choruses which demand attention. The latter track especially washes rays of sunshine over the listener to create the ultimate ‘feel-good’ moment in a record full of them.
‘Indie rock’ as a genre is struggling in recent times, with no one band asserting themselves as the band to listen for, but with Sunlit Youth Local Natives do a fine job of staking their claim. Their third record is a celebration of hooks and nuances with a developing sound which suggests the L.A. five-piece are more than ready to truly break out into the minds of the masses. (8/10)
Listen to Sunlit Youth here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Infectious, John Tindale, Kelcey Ayer, Local Natives, Matt Frazier, Nik Ewing, review, Ryan Hahn, Sunlit Youth, Taylor Rice
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