Ignore every review you have heard or read about Sunlit Youth. Remove the information from your brain. Approach with a blank state.
I can’t say with certainty that every other review was wrong, but I do find it hard to believe that people could effectively understand this collection of songs in fewer than ten days. Some albums like Waters’ ‘What’s Real’ and GROUPLOVE’s ‘Big Mess’ are clear from the first listen. You get everything that the record is and everything that it is trying to do. You can blast the tracks windows down, and life is good.
This is not the case with Sunlit Youth, though. The third album from one of the top two bands from Silver Lake, CA requires a slower process. They express a fluidity in music that parallel’s the fluidity of the world. Nothing is static. Everything is changing. Let’s give the album a spin:
The songs are ready for your brain, but your brain is not ready for these songs. At first listen, the singles like ‘Villany,’ ‘Fountains of Youth,’ ‘Past Lives,’ and ‘Coins’ represent a solid turn out of tunes that can build and soar in typical Local Natives’ fashion. But this is just part of the story.
The remaining tracks, despite their immediate inaccessibility, completely round out the album. What we are left with is the most complete Local Natives album to date. Each track stands apart as being “single-worthy” while fitting perfectly into the larger context of the album. The musicality is constantly pushing the boundaries and forging an evolution from previous albums. From experimental drum beats and keyboard effects to a strained acoustic guitar and Caribbean dance flavors, each track offers something unique to the listener as long as they are willing to put the time and effort into the listening process.
Perhaps the most surprising track on the album is “Dark Days,” a track laced with smokey tones and sultry female vocals, which (unless I’m mistaken) is a first for the male-memebered bad.
Lyrically, Local Natives continue with their progressive messages that convey a sense of timeliness and immediacy that other groups struggle to produce. The songs explore the promise of a female president and what it means to commit crimes. The messages span the range from love to feminism, and I always savor the changing song writing and vocal styles of the group with harmonies that never fail to soothe my brain.
I purchased the album on vinyl, and I am thrilled I did. My slab of wax was only a small part of the purchase. Since I preordered, I received a Vinyl Gratification 10 in. 45 rpm with three singles from the album as well as the pre-order only track ‘Lydon.’ The added track does not seem like a standout, but time may change that as well.
The album comes in a thick cardstock sleeve with a dust jacket covering the clear vinyl disc. A download card accompanies the package, but if you have Apple Music like I do, you can reserve the card as a decoration.
As you slide out the remaining contents from the sleeve, you’ll find about 20 individual pieces of cardstock with lyrics, photos, and other pieces of artistic expression from the band. The spread is impressive and interesting to inspect, but it really begs the question: What am I supposed to do with this? Is it a puzzle? A secret code? The answer to the meaning of life? I can’t say, but I like it.
Ten days into the album and months into the first singles, the album continues to grow and transform into something more. It is something special that could become an all-time favorite.
Consume.Review.Repeat. gives Sunlit Youth by Local Natives 8.6 red hands never caught out of 10.