Local Natives

Hummingbird

(Frenchkiss/Infectious)

Jan 31, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes Bookmark and Share


We all knew it was coming, right? The so-called "difficult" second album. This is especially expected from a band such as Local Nativeswho named their debut album Gorilla Manor after the frat house-like living conditions they shared during the recording process. Time to grow up. 401ks are waiting.

Thankfully the Los Angeles quartet has managed the transition better than most. Other than hiring outside producer Aaron Dessner (of The National) to streamline the sprawling Afro pop-influenced sound of their debut, they are still the band that first captured our hearts three years ago with the handclap and shout-heavy single "Sun Hands." Gone are the multi-track vocals, and the band's percussion-driven arrangements are notably pulled backall the better to showcase their heartbreaking vocals. As a result, Hummingbird plays like a sophisticated and logical forward progression. 

What has changed significantly since their debut is the band's emotional content. Life beyond the party was alluded to on Gorilla Manor, its lyrics dusted with mentions of death, travel, and loneliness. But now wrestling with such topics is of the utmost concern. Cups, fireworks, staples: everything is given weight, as illustrated by "Ceilings," which contains the telling line, "I haven't stopped smoking yet/so I'll share your cigarette/just to feel it in my fingers." A single acoustic guitar line slowly opens into a full-band arrangement and underscores the intimacy of the moment. For Local Natives, the emotionlike the devilis in the details. Still, for all its attention to the minutiae of daily life, themes always come back to personal intent, and the doubt that can accompany it. Heartfelt ballad "Colombia" asks what is perhaps one of the greatest universal questions: "Am I loving enough?"

Even when they go big, it is not without a new level of sophistication. "Breakers" possesses a haunted Arcade Fire glow; talk of skulls and skin wind into a song that slowly grows into a billowing, arena-sized chorus. They may be shifting the weight of the world onto their collective shoulders, but it hasn't dampened their energy a bit. Maybe growing up isn't so hard to do after all.

(www.thelocalnatives.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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Eoghan
January 31st 2013
10:36am

Incredible album, raw emotion and musical perfection.