Elizabeth Powell, the main singer songwriter of Land of Talk, spent the last few years away from the music scene, a break that was partly forced by unfortunate personal circumstances. The title Life After Youth suggests a lost innocence but on this album the music has a power which proves these life experiences have given her creativity renewed purpose.
The opening track Yes You Were is classic upbeat indie pop, her voice sweetly weary. She sings about distance, being unable to leave things behind. You kind of think she is singing about her career as much as any relationship. She’s decided to come back and this time she will celebrate the complications.
The song that brought her back to music was This Time, which she wrote for her father after he had a stroke. There is a sense of cathartic music therapy as she sings I don’t want to waste it this time, I don’t want to waste it, my life. The music starts all 80s Cure-inspired and builds beautifully, using a swirly Cocteau Twins style vibe towards the end. There’s a genuine honesty in the lyrics and feeling of this song, a sense that music can heal.
The next track, Loving, has more synths, but it’s got a real kick to the guitar sound as well. The lyrics appear as though she’s trying to convince someone to stay alive, herself maybe. What Was I Thinking starts with a more lo-fi sound, and this signals a change from the more anthemic indie pop of the opening.
Spiritual Intimidation (great title) creates a real sense of unsettling darkness. Here lies nothing. No one is innocent. Questioning life, love and religion suggests an existential crisis but the music is so good it never feels indulgent. Heartcore explores the pain of a relationship gone, which recurs through the record. There’s uncertainty about love, about trusting people again. This song has something a little different in the mix that just raises the music above your typical indie rock fare.
Inner lover goes more for the ethereal electronica which shows her confidence to experiment with the sound and atmosphere. World Made then has her back rocking out again and while getting out of your comfort zone musically is refreshing, this sound does feel more of a natural home. On In Florida she sings like Harriet from The Sundays (never a bad thing in my book) and reminds herself, and the listener, Don’t fade out. Macabre might seem like a dark title but this final song has a quietly joyful tone. She’s thought about leaving this life but in the end there’s too much she’d miss. After all it’s simple things, like appreciating the beauty of nature, that really matter.
This album is the sound of Powell slowly coming back to life, love and music – on her own terms. There is a real maturity here which suggests that Life After Youth will be a prosperous one for Land of Talk.