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A Question About the Fountain of Youth

September 21, 2016

written by Erin Diaz

Friday, September 9th, was a big day for indie music - it welcomed the release of new albums from some of your favorite "groovy" bands such as The Head and the Heart, Grouplove, Wilco, Bastille and Local Natives. While all of these new albums have something to offer for every music-lover, Local Natives' album "Sunlit Youth" brings a new voice to a seven-year-old band. This is not just another album for Local Natives – the album is a statement that rings true to many young people.

With themes of endless youth and undeniable cultural change, "Sunlit Youth" expresses a side of Local Natives that mirrors everything that the millennial generation is blamed for - that being mainly entitlement and a false sense of invincibility. Yet, behind the words that express invincibility, there seems to be a slight fear of the typical troubles that come being young.

Local Natives’ most played song on the album is "Fountain of Youth", which might as well be their anthem. The song contains lyrics that defy the idea of any advice young people have been given in the past. As Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer and Ryan Hahn simultaneously sing out "We can do whatever we want / We can say whatever we need", the feeling is that they strongly believe in these words.

The question becomes then, is this true? Can the youth of our generation actually do whatever we want and say whatever we need? The band goes on to sing "And if we don't care / Then who cares? / We've been dreaming of you / Drinking from fountains of youth". Is this actually the attitude that we have, and not only this, but is this attitude verifiable? And what kind of consequences come from a lifestyle of carelessness?

When it comes to the rebellion that is displayed in “Fountain of Youth”, it is clear that this is not the only theme that emerges from Sunlit Youth. In "Ellie Alice", the lyrics "On the other side, will I be reminded? / Pain in youth / Counting up the cards for the time rewinded / Pain in youth" express not only the fear of pain, but also the pain itself that comes with being young. These lyrics, when placed beside the lyrics in Fountain of Youth, are honestly a bit confusing. It is easy to find yourself, as the listener, begging for more clarity from Local Natives as to what “youth” really means to them and how it should be dealt with. Yet, perhaps this actually mirrors our adolescence – it is a difficult time period to define in our lives, and do we truly ever know how to deal with it?

Lyrics and themes aside, this album's sound delivers something for everyone. The first album on the track, "Villainy", is the kind of song that you want to shut your eyes and dance to in a slow, "far-out" kind of way. If you don't understand what I mean by that, give it a listen and I promise that you will understand. The rest of the album follows suit, having hints of a jazzy feel. “Coins” and “Ellie Alice” showcase the slowed-down raw sound that Local Natives is not only capable of, but also excellent at executing.

Local Natives has received a great deal of support for their new album from sites such as NPR music, which describes the album as "perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of 2016 and the embracing of change this year demands".  So what do you think? Has Local Natives encompassed what youth means for you through their lyrics or have they made you seek clarity on the subject more than ever before?