Lonely Generation

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The sophomore full-length album from Echosmith, 2020's Lonely Generation, finds the California band further elevating their '80s new wave and dance-rock influences with a mature sense of pop sophistication. Once again featured is lead vocalist Sydney Sierota along with her brothers bassist Noah Sierota and drummer Graham Sierota, all of whom were still teenagers when they debuted with 2013's Talking Dreams. Long in development, Lonely Generation arrives seven years after that Top 40-charting debut, which spawned the hit "Cool Kids." In the interim they issued the 2017 EP Inside a Dream, which found them shifting somewhat away from the more slavish '80s college rock of their debut and towards a more polished, contemporary sound. It was a transition that drew fair comparisons to Taylor Swift's brand of upbeat pop, and one that remains the group's trajectory here. Grounded by the opening title track, an anthem for kids coming of age in an often isolating social-media landscape, Lonely Generation is a gentle, thoughtful album. Working with producer and longtime collaborator Jeffery David (who is also the Sierotas' father), as well as veteran mixer Tony Hoffer, Echosmith populate these songs with analog-sounding keyboards, shimmering acoustic and electric guitars, and a modicum of electronic flourishes. Tracks like "Diamonds," "Shut Up and Kiss Me," and "Lost Somebody" bring to mind the hooky exuberance of artists like Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, and even After Laughter-era Paramore. It's also pleasing to hear Sierota embrace a more sultry and mature emotionality, as she does on the R&B-tinged "Cracked" and the Cure-esque "Last Forever." Another surprise is hearing bassist Noah step to the mic for a yearning duet alongside his sister on "Everyone Cries." These are hooky, lyrical songs painted with just enough day-glo new wave eyeshadow to help them stand out from the pop crowd.

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