by Sarah Kimura (@twum_ble)
The summer always starts bursting forth. When you’re young, this means pushing forward with all you’ve got, wilding out, and getting loose, whether it looks like a teenage spirited house party or a week spent holed up on the internet. But soon, usually within a month, the magic fades. Spontaneity no longer has the same kick to propel you to the next adventure. You’re far enough from the routine you just left to miss it, but not close enough to the fall to get excited.
That’s what Littlefoot’s sophomore album, Lavender, feels like: the in-between lull that forces a moment of contemplation and indecision that is never overwhelming enough to feel like forever. Erica Sutherland’s vocals slide through reverb, her voice never quite landing where one would expect, giving cadence to the questions she asks quite often throughout the album. “What do you keep / on the other side? / in the folds of time? / in the oceans tide?” she asks on the opening track, “Divination.” “Tell me now, what's one to do? / up so high without a view,” she asks on “Oh Well.” And most markedly, “Should i stay / should i go / i don't know,” she repeats on the sunny sounding “Nervous Nelly.” None of these questions are asked expecting an answer, and none of them are asked with the inflection of someone in desperation. Sutherland’s questions are followed up by acceptance that these questions will never produce the answers we seem to be looking for. There is, amongst comforting plucky guitar riffs and soft beachy drum beats, a resolve to accepting that sometimes we have the answers to our questions, but they aren’t exactly the ones we expected.
Sutherland has cited The Beach Boys, Beach House, and The Ventures as influences for Littlefoot, and it definitely shows. The surf rock influences show so prominently throughout the album, borrowing a riff over here, a drum beat over there, to build an inevitably summer-y atmosphere. But the synth effects and reverb, which Sutherland cites a love for from car rides listening to Enya in the 90s, give these familiar melodies and hallmarks a dreamlike quality nearing nostalgia, like the grain of an old photograph. The lyrics of self-discovery and maturity then feel rooted in that sway of surf rock, and instead of feeling driven to surf atop the waves, listeners feel the pull and push to accept the tides.
This album is meant for walks in the neighborhood, for night drives that feel never-ending, and for waking up in the afternoon with no plans for the day. In these moments, it is easy to feel like there’s something missing, as if there’s something else that should be happening, but Lavender assures us that whatever it is, it’ll be around sometime.