In 2013, Echosmith wanted to be like the cool kids. In 2020, Echosmith is still singing about getting out of the background — just this time, in a 12-track album rather than a hit single. On Echosmith’s new album, Lonely Generation, released Friday, the band recalls past feelings of falling behind and not having a clue.
Even though the opening and titular track, “Lonely Generation,” is upbeat and dripping with indie pop glamour, the meaning takes a deeper look into how technology negatively impacts our social lives. Lyrics like “A pixelated version of ourselves” and “I’ve disconnected, now I’m by myself” comment on the idea that having a presence online is no equivalent to having a social life of any form.
This theme continues throughout the album at a more generalized angle, detailing how feeling fake, hidden or outdated can leave someone broken upon impact. The follow-up song, “Diamonds,” keeps the charm and danceability of Echosmith’s usual production, but once again, certain lyrics inspire more thought than your typical radio hit. Even if the words themselves still appeal to a more mass pop audience and aren’t the most poetically written, it’s the underlying implication that drives the point home.
Instrumentally, the distinct bass lines on “Cracked” add a groovy edge to the otherwise strictly indie pop record. Hints of early-2000s R&B influence the track in layered harmonies while the early-2010s folk scene shines through in accessorizing whistles. The short lines of the verses only add to the slow-paced mystery that lead singer Sydney Sierota brings to the song with her well-utilized and controlled breathing.
The dreaminess of Sierota’s vocals on “Shut Up and Kiss Me” almost completely makes up for the overdone subject of the song. While the track is fun and flirty, the lyrical depth falls short compared to other songs on the album. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — for an inherently pop album, not every song needs to be deep as long as it makes up in danceability. And since this song wins the award for Most Likely to Have Been a Club Hit in the ’80s, it still passes as a solid track on the record.
Echosmith definitely pulled inspiration from a buffet of sounds when producing Lonely Generation, but the most obvious resemblance seems to be on “Stuck.” It’d be hard to imagine that the opening bass line by Noah Sierota wasn’t even a little bit inspired by the famous clamor on “The Less I Know the Better” from Tame Impala’s 2015 album, Currents. The two artists have wildly different sounds, but if a fan doesn’t remix these two songs together, an opportunity will be dreadfully missed.
“Last Forever,” however, is arguably missable. Toward the midpoint of the album, the tracks slow down into more arena-rock-ballad territory, and the cheesiness abounds. “Last Forever,” in particular, is sure to be a powerful moment in a live performance, as a crowd of cellphone flashlights is sure to make an appearance.
Noah Sierota’s vocal debut on Lonely Generation comes on the stripped-down “Everyone Cries.” Every theme the band was going for with this record is laid bare on the table with this delicate piano song, a duet between siblings that speaks about how feeling invisible can be confusing and sometimes emotional intimacy is the tricky cure. Slow songs can be difficult for radio artists to pull off, but this song strides through as a place of vulnerability for Echosmith.
The album takes a drastic but saucy turn with “Scared To Be Alone.” The chords are simple but overlaid with a woozy guitar riff, and the choruses take on a dynamic pacing that keeps the album’s momentum going strong even while approaching the end.
The core strength of the album lies in its ability to not get boring. Lonely Generation ends on a series of optimistic and buoyant tracks, but Echosmith makes an intentional choice with the order of the tracklist. While the band’s style remains consistent, no two songs on the album sound too alike to the point of repetition, nor does the energy or spirit ever fall too flat. Echosmith promises tracks worthy of car singalongs and soft indie pop praise, and the new album definitely keeps that promise.