Local Natives releases their first single of the year, Tap Dancer- harmonious, heart-wrenching, and simplistic. They’ve released quite a few singles since 2017, but their last album was Sunlit Youth in 2016. Hopefully this time won’t be another false alarm for an upcoming album. Seriously, I can hear this track in perhaps a sad movie, or show- since it’s so unassuming but believes in its own power. There are certain phrases that stand out as emotional triggers: “I wish” and “Take me back”. These cliches, though, are balanced out with original metaphors.
The chorus is a catchy, and ingrained in me so vividly since the vocals ring out while the music backs off.
I don’t know
Everything was easier before
Take me back
Before I knew of artificial roses
The vocals are so clear and harmonize during this part. the guitar quiets down before these important proclamations are made. I’m not sure who performs in live versions of Tap Dancer, but I know that every member of Local Natives sings except for drummer, Matt Frazier. Harmonies should really be utilized more in alternative music.
It seems as if “artificial roses” are used in the song to show what I feel is lack of self love. The song opens up with ” Champion on the podium, another win / Quiet when the crowd’s gone, deafening”. It’s as if this character is an overachiever perhaps, or just someone who worked hard for their goals- who is then disappointed at the end of the day. The artificial roses may be presented to this person, but they crave more. Not fake love, or fake pride in oneself; they just want to go back in time, when things were authentic and fulfilling.
Part of the second verse supports this:
It’s a tap dance to you,
It’s a minefield to me.
And I’m watching
Why do people dance? Specifically tap dance? Well, people learn to dance to gain this skill and perform but…there must be joy and motivation within it as well. This character in the song is just struggling to keep up- if they don’t tap dance, they will explode, and die (metaphorically, of course). They will eventually lose the game. They are no longer the champion of the first verse.
The character of Tap Dance is breaking down, and realizes it. They want to escape this game they’ve put themselves in, this competition to win and attempt to win themselves over. Everyone offers artificial roses- EVERY rose is in artificial rose. Anyone can pat you on the back and say good job- but who are you at the end of the day. Local Natives wants to ask you this 🙂