Local Natives "Sunlit Youth"

It’s a challenge keeping a sunny disposition in the current chaotic political and social atmosphere but Local Natives are doing a fine job of dealing. Sunlit Youth shines with silver lining attitude, a reversal from their last album, 2013’s Hummnigbird. Belief in a better future is derived by the band’s trust in the upcoming generation, thus the album’s title.

Songwriting for Sunlit Youth began as the band searched for inspiration following the rigors of a recently ended tour. After resting up at home in Los Angeles the band traveled to Nicaragua, Thailand, and Joshua Tree, returning to L.A. with renewed vigor and new musical concepts. The band’s writing process is democratic with each member contributing to the birth and nurturing of songs. The music bristles with energy and ear-grabbing hooks that make political and societal messaging palatable. The band’s trick is to integrate that messaging into songs that are personal in nature but lead to a better understanding of the world and our place in it. Feminism is another topic that pops up in several songs, with mentions of matriarchy and a female president.

Sunlit Youth is less organic than the band’s previous work as they lean more toward electronic production and pulsing beats. There are moments when the songs are reminiscent of another L.A. band, Rilo Kiley, particularly on “Dark Days” which features guest vocalist Nina Persson. “Coins” offers a slightly R&B flavored diversion, but most songs ring with a dance-pop sensibility. Taylor Rice’s vocals are bright and airy, a perfect vehicle for songs that suggest there is a bright future ahead, if we just give the kids a chance.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)