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Local Natives stray from their roots

After two successful releases, the Orange County natives release their highly anticipated and profoundly disappointing “Sunlit Youth.”   |   diymag.com

 

Despite spending two years creating what many hoped to be their best album yet, Local Natives have instead provided audiences with their most ambitious nonsense to date.

incoherent smorgasbord of sound

One would hope after their last two well-received albums, the third would get even better. Instead, it seems someone in the band had this brilliant thought process: “Hey look, a synthesizer — we can make something that sounds like every modern indie rock and synthpop band.” Demoting the sonic potential of their new instrumental fixation scratches the surface of everything Local Natives did wrong on “Sunlit Youth.

The novice implementation of the synth in “Sunlit Youth” compares to a middle-schooler initially discovering the slideshow effects and animations in Microsoft PowerPoint. The additional synth pads do not add any texture to Local Natives’ sound. Instead, there exists an incoherent smorgasbord of sound overused to the point where the sounds become underwhelming and oppressively overbearing

Local Natives’ 2009 debut release called “Gorilla Manor” cemented the Local Natives as rising stars with an urgent and raw sound, heavily driven by booming percussion and grungy guitar. Fast forwarding three years finds the five-man ensemble devising their most lyrically down-to-earth album with “Hummingbird,” as it allows audiences to easily gauge the emotions of Taylor Rice as he displays diverse vocal range to accompany lyrics that carry raw introspection. Unfortunately, “Sunlit Youth” undermines the best qualities of previous successes and warps them into an overproduced, synthesized mess with forgettable, simple and frankly awkward lyrics, as exemplified with the line, “Are you afraid to call yourself a feminist?” from the song “Masters.”

Indecipherable pile of trash

When elaborating upon the cringeworthy lyrics of “Sunlight Youth,” one must look at the pervading immaturity with lyricism preserving youth after passing the age of 30. For instance, in the song “Fountain of Youth,” probably the best song musically, the lyrics never fail in their absolute mindlessness, “We can do whatever we want. We can say whatever we mean. And if we don't care, then who cares?” If it took this band two years to create this mockery of an album, why they refused at least take a second glance at these shallow lyrics and pump even a little substance into them defies comprehension.

The most devastatingly low point of this album points to the track “Coins.” The song begins with a Red Hot Chili Peppers rip-off, attempting to harken back to the band’s heyday. Then all of a sudden, the guitar-driven introduction of the song becomes drowned out by poorly thought-out synthetic soundscapes, making for a indecipherable pile of trash lumbering all the way through the rest of the track. So much goes wrong this song, ultimately leaving listeners pondering why this band thought “Sunlit Youth” would accomplish anything worthwhile. Almost everything about this album fails, from the aforementioned tracks, the album as a whole, to the entire direction this band brought to what could have been their crowning achievement.

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