We here at Melodic Tree were lucky enough to get our hands on Local Natives’ upcoming album, Sunlit Youth, and after listening to it on repeat for a few days we thought we’d share a few of our initial reactions and maybe give you some things to look forward to on the official release date this Friday.
If you have already listened to the three singles that have been released off the new album – “Villainy”, “Past Lives”, and “Fountain of Youth” – or if you have read some of our past posts regarding Sunlit Youth then you are well aware that Local Natives have evolved quite a bit since their Gorilla Manor days. As a sort of an expansion upon the sound of their 2013 release, Hummingbird, LN has made synth sounds a much more prominent aspect of their music. The best example of this is the opening track and previously released single, “Villainy”. This song might show a closer resemblance to a group like Empire of the Sun rather than the sound we fell in love with on Local Native’s debut record, but is none the less a powerful synth pop opening to the album and a great indicator of the direction the band is striving towards.
If the sound of “Villainy” is maybe not your cup of tea, fear not for there are plenty of gems to keep you engaged throughout the rest of the album. For instance, possibly one of the best moments of Sunlit Youth is the vocals on the third track, “Dark Days”. Not only are the lyrics engaging and the melody beautiful, but the incorporation of Nina Persson’s voice is a godsend. Singer-songwriter of the Swedish pop group The Cardigans as well as a number of her own solo efforts, Persson’s tender voice lends perfectly to those of the rest of the band. As she takes the second verse solo and then harmonizes flawlessly with the rest of the group, one might think that she was meant to be a Local Native.
Although at this point you might have an idea in your head about what the whole album sounds like, we promise Sunlit Youth will surprise you, and that is what’s so great about it. In the song “Masters” the band flirts with electronica (side note: if Local Natives wrote more of this kind of music, clubs would be way better); we get an almost hip-hop vibe in the song “Jellyfish” featuring Moses Sumney; “Coins” comes out of nowhere with a surprisingly fitting quasi-R&B sound fit with wailing vocals and all; and even a throwback to the classic LN sound with “Ellie Alice”.
In summary, Sunlit Youth is engaging but perhaps not what longtime Local Natives fans would expect. We still hear their signature cryptic yet beautiful lyricism paired with gorgeous harmonies, but now the musical context in which those aspects appear is different. So if you’re willing to give this new evolution a chance, we think you’ll have no problem remaining a die hard Local Natives Fan.