On their third release, California’s Local Natives step into the light, shaking off the gloom of last album Hummingbird, and letting the sun shine through a euphoric mix of eclectic influences and optimistic songwriting. For an album released in September, Sunlit Youth is a strikingly summery record, filled with festival-ready indie rock.
Nina Persson, lead singer of ’90s alt-rock group The Cardigans, lends her sensual voice to the laidback Dark Days over irresistible fluttering guitarwork. Singer and guitarist Taylor Rice’s smooth, sensitive vocals carry thoughtful verses, sounding particularly strong on the earworm choruses of Everything All At Once and Fountain of Youth.
Overt references to other bands can be heard on almost every song: whether that’s the bold Killers piano chords and Brandon Flowers-style vocal inflection on opener Villainy, to rousing choruses evoking Arcade Fire, and the very Fleetwood Mac synth intro to Psycho Lovers.
Local Natives tip their hat to so many other acts that it’s sometimes hard to figure out the band’s own identity. But, taking a smart approach to writing, they adapt old sounds into a record that still feels fresh and forward, and they find just about enough of themselves in the process.