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First Listen: Little Daylight, 'Hello Memory'

NPR icon by Katie Presley
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Tim Saccenti

Too much sugar is unhealthy — and it's easy, in today's world, to get too much. Sugar is empty calories, it causes decay, it implies a lack of substance, and yet we crave it. But our brains also run on it, and it's critical in energy production. For better and worse, sweetness is intoxicating. So how do we find balance? On its latest album, Hello Memory, the Brooklyn trio Little Daylight offers a sort of nutritional road map.

First, there are different kinds of sugar: sugars created in labs, sugars found in nature, sugars that combine the two. Little Daylight throws in its lot with naturally occurring fructose, capitalizing on what surrounds the sweetness. Hello Memory is synth-driven, youthful electro-pop, but there's fiber in the pith. Nikki Taylor's vocals are anthemic and fun, while her lyrics veer into darkness ("Overdose") and are paired with mercurial instrumentation by Matt Lewkowicz and Eric Zeiler; their work helps swing the record from Toni Basil's bubblegum ("My Life") to Imogen Heap's ethereality ("Be Long") to M83's ambient post-rock ("Nothing to Lose").

Naturally occurring sugar isn't a lack of substance; it's a reward for substance. Fruit is sweet, but its sweetness belongs to a package that includes vital nutrients. Little Daylight sounds both breezy and grounded, heady and cerebral, with its feet on the ground even as it soars. The superficial appeal of Hello Memory is immediate and endorphin-driven, but repeat listens reveal sophisticated production and impeccable delivery. This record masters the art of a balanced breakfast: It's a treat without sacrificing density, substantial while still ebullient and, perhaps more than any other single thing, delicious to the last bite.

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