By Carris Boast
January 28, 2013
Los Angeles quintet Local Natives, whose previous efforts found them creating upbeat Folk-pop songs with 2010’s Gorilla Mirror, return with a set comprised of a calmer and more accomplished sound with unblemished, hearty vocals as witnessed on the album’s first single ‘Breakers’, released last October. Hummingbird opens with a spine tingling wave of reverb, guitars and fuzzed-out noises. ‘You and I’ beckons a beautiful, monotonic revelation as the song breaks into a river of sentiment troubled by the continuous cry of the chorus. The high pitched howl from lead vocalist Taylor Rice ripples and floats, with piercing rays of guitars and drums that merge into the upbeat track ‘Heavy Feet’ in which familiar aspects of its predecessor are exposed as the core of the new song.
On Gorilla Mirror we witnessed the band’s ability to make not only magnetic, vibrant indie music but they also hinted at sentimental inclinations with the ballad ‘Airplanes.’ This time around ‘Black Spot’ carries this sentiment in a similar vein but with the haunting hum of an exhausted piano adding an extra element to the mix. The repetitive piano pulls together tension and distress as it builds into a crescendo and eventually breaks into a waterfall of noise, creating a buzz that is grittier and a little less dainty than ‘Airplanes.’
Local Natives have managed to create a distinguished sound that steers ever so subtly into brilliance; however, it only tip-toes in the shadow of the greatness that could have been with tracks ‘Breakers’ and ‘Bowery.’ The melodic guitar riffs, dream like essence and abundance of “ooos and ahhhs” suggests a sound less like authentic Local Natives and more like an imitation of Arcade Fire. ‘Wooly Mammoth’ has a quality that would be best suited to a large venue; with an arrangement of clashing instruments encompassing the vocals, it stands out amongst the calm complexity of the rest of the album as the closest the band get to a tour de force.
The band still retain the ability to create lyrics that capture a particular honesty in the story they are trying to tell. Hummingbird shows a delicate progression from their writing on Gorilla Mirror, deviating as they have into a darker, more complex and developed sound. Hummingbird as an album is though no more than fine as it lacks the diversity to be truly triumphant. Local Natives may therefore find themselves lost in the mix of the indie pop music industry and remaining local heroes rather than household names.