Tone Deft

“Sunlit Youth” by Local Natives

By Hanna Schindler
On September 15, 2016

The five-piece, indie band Local Natives released an exultant  sound, as the title may suggest, with the release of their third album “Sunlit Youth” on Sep. 9, leading listeners to believe they may be in a more positive headspace than that of their last album “Hummingbird,” released in 2013.

Unfortunately, brighter is not always better. This new sound has taken Local Natives out of the running with bands like Fleet Foxes and The National, whom they were often compared, and sat them at the same table with engineered indie bands like Coldplay or Fun. who are, still far more captivating than the sound I hear on “Sunlit Youth.”

Despite the positive attempt at thematic continuity and upbeat rhythms on the album, the sound is so polished and riskless it is seemingle disengaging.  I found myself forcibly opening my ears in order to listen to "Sunlit Youth," only to soon realize my efforts were lost about halfway through each track. 

The synths that coat the album are perhaps the culprit of its spiritless stupor. The strings and drums that ignited the band on past albums and during their live performances are mostly missing, having been replaced with digitized grooves. The slick synth-pop sound they seemed to aim for is only confused by glimpses of their coined harmonizing, raw and soulful style. 

Nevertheless, the album is not without its high points, with songs like “Mother Emanuel” and “Jellyfish” making catchy breaks for success. The track “Coins,” however, is the only one on the album that incorporates a sound reminiscent of the Local Natives we all know, and an experimental, soulfulness that is a combination for success. 

The album focuses on a central theme of leaving the past or “youth” behind and forging a path toward the future. 

This new sound may be an attempt at complying with that notion. 

However, the effortless sound made for outdoor concerts at dusk that Local Natives once possessed is lost on this album in an overreaching pursuit of something that once came so naturally. 


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