Papaya Tree’s new single, “Youth,” delivers an interesting trick on the ears—musical contrast. The jaunty, horns-heavy single is deceptively cheery. It sounds like the kind of song you can easily dance along to and replay enthusiastically. But listen closer and you’ll hear the somber lyrics that bring your shimmying and shaking to a halt and make you go, “Oh.”
And this summer sunburnt neck
is getting cold
Yet I cry until you’re mine
The use of flawlessly warm horns against the mention of lonely, peeling sunburns hits you in the feels. It’s an autumn sunset, just as pretty as any other but with a colder—more reflective—breeze running through it. If you love the thought and feel of indie music but miss the buoyancy of soul-infused pop, this song might be what you’re looking for. Papaya Tree’s single rings of nights-out come to an end, idealism hit by realism, and the feeling of what ought to be the best part of one’s life slipping away. Relatable, tragically. But it still has you nodding along and feeling the groove.
The contradiction of sound and soul present throughout the track makes it impactful and smart.
Almost as if finally reclaiming something stolen away, the lead singer of the Australian-based group belts “You waste away my youth,” making the important realization that drives the entire track forward. A simple, declamatory message that even the best, most romantically successful of all of us can agree “I’ve been there.” The song, rebellious in nature, is about making it through that pain.
Who will bury the pallbearers
when the time turns against the tide
Maybe it gets a little emo but in an endearing way. One that evokes the unnecessary desperation of youth. Coming from a band with a distinct, clever personality (their “band interests” on Facebook are listed solely as “canceling rehearsals”), listeners can hear their witty and thoughtful, at some points dark, lyricism. Their imagery on “Youth” stands out, maneuvering through dexterous references.
The best decisions are the ones
we were told were never made,
and the best-laid plans of mice and men…
it’s getting old
And the music itself, simply put, is really catchy.
The various instruments dance together to create a soulful, bouncy jam that keeps moving until it culminates in a rock tribute. Guitar shreds and edge fill in for the fluid hook and give the song a poignant second act. One that says, musically, a breakthrough has been made. Indie funk-folk-rock-undefined music is so enjoyable because it plays around with different sounds, unlimited by a single genre’s expectations. Papaya Tree had the freedom to punctuate its single with a jam sesh that shows off personality, skill, and wit.
The relatively new band, having come together officially only two years ago, play with such a connected vision and destination throughout the whole song. Blending together different sounds, genres, and styles, “Youth” doesn’t have a single descriptor. And perhaps that’s its strongest trait. You have to listen to it for yourself to decide what kind of song it is, and what it means to you.
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