Album review: Local Natives delivers massive harmonies, defines self as band in 'Hummingbird'
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 22:01
With so many all-stars of alternative and indie rock, such as Grizzly Bear, the National, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, coming to the forefront of our musical attention, we have defined a peculiar yet supremely accessible sect in modern rock music. It’s a sect that, to be concise, entails more serious lyricism that pays closer attention to compositional method in music. Local Natives has always made a nod to the most popular of these bands, branding itself as the perfect mesh of approachable, poppy qualities with a very composed character.
“Hummingbird,” Local Natives’ second album to date, comes to us after a particularly long period of time, as the band’s debut record, “Gorilla Manor” was released more than three years ago. The group’s first album epitomized a well-balanced record, aligning down-tempo, Radiohead-like rhythms (“Shape Shifter”) with cheery tunes (“World News”) and a nifty post-punk cover to boot (Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign”). “Gorilla Manor” was continually stimulating and could easily be hailed as a gateway indie classic.
On the second full-length, it seems as if Local Natives has come to understand itself as a band. The band comprehends what it is, sonically speaking, as a band. Although “Gorilla Manor” seemed to be a fully realized album, “Hummingbird” is the perfect second half — an integral part to the Local Natives collection.
Pulses measured in hand-claps combined with driving acoustic guitars are on “Hummingbird” just as they are on its predecessor. This is heard particularly on “Heavy Feet” and lead single “Breakers.” Both songs have a guitar chime that nuances their respective melodies in a manner that is uncannily similar to Grizzly Bear.
Local Natives’ knack for massive, choral harmonies is a major motive of their music. “Wooly Mammoth” is comparable to a weaker croon from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. “Ceilings’” harmonies reach a degree that only Fleet Foxes has attained in this genre.
“Hummingbird” reflects only a slight transformation for Local Natives. The traits that have come to define its music are present on this album just as much they were on “Gorilla Manor.” However, the songs that are born to be singles on this album are few in number.
Local Natives takes a rest on this album. This is not in laziness, but rather the group has internalized its own music and demeanor to create an album that doesn’t go too far in any direction. “Hummingbird” is solely Local Natives as it is meant to be, through and through.