Portland – Cheerleader is the latest band rising from the ever-evolving Philadelphia music scene. The five-piece drops their first full-length album, The Sunshine Of Your Youth, May 19th. Cheerleader’s beachy indie rock is a testament to their influences, which include The Beach Boys and The Beatles, but they luckily have the ability to make the sound their own. The Sunshine Of Your Youth is an ode to that very idea—the album is youthful but sincere, feel-good but lyrically truthful. Through 10 tracks, Cheerleader has the ability to submerge the listener into their version of youth—their music.
Cheerleader was derived from a long-standing friendship between members Chris Duran and Joe Haller, who relocated to Philadelphia to produce and record together. The product was Cheerleader’s first demo, which dropped in 2013 to immediate acclaim. After realizing the challenges of performing live as a two-piece, Haller and Duran sought out the help of bassist Paul Impellizeri, multi-instrumentalist Josh Pannepacker and drummer Carl Bahner to complete the band and begin touring as Cheerleader. Their full-length has been highly anticipated since their original demo, garnering comparisons to The War On Drugs and Real Estate. Their current tour with The Wombats reinforces the fact that Cheerleader’s career is only just beginning.
The album’s single, “Sunshine Of Your Youth” is one of the most upbeat musically, but in actuality is a commentary on the nostalgia of youth. The track’s lyrics sculpt a story for the listener: “Saw a family photo / Circa 1995 / And it looks like you’re all happy / But you can’t imagine why.” The song goes on to describe struggling with regrets of the past, while the chorus asks: “Can you make a promise / to be honest with yourself?” “Sunshine Of Your Youth” is in many ways the theme of the album: echoing vocals, a steady drumbeat and melodic guitar give way to a chorus of realization, both musically and lyrically.
If “Sunshine Of Your Youth” is the theme of the album, then “Do What You Want” is the truth of it. The lyrics are stunningly reminiscent of the youthful angst of adolescence, but Cheerleader is successful in conveying a different kind of angst, separate from the typical. Harmonies surround the track, put in just the right places to emphasize the actual despondence of the song, which includes lyrics like “barely surviving / And feeling useless.” “Do What You Want” is dedicated to the self-doubt of youth. Songs like this, as well as “A Million Ways” make the upbeat compilation all the more interesting to listen to.
Cheerleader’s debut is easy in it’s ability to affect and relax its listeners and The Sunshine Of Your Youth prompts more than a few listens because of it. The band uses a multitude of breezy instrumental elements to create their innovative sound, all of which aid in the enjoyment of listening. It is no wonder that Cheerleader has come so far in such a short period—they are attempting, and succeeding in speaking to a generation.
The Sunshine Of Your Youth drops via Bright Antenna May 19th. Cheerleader is currently on tour. Follow them on Facebook for tour dates.
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