Record review: Local Natives – Hummingbird (2013 LP)

local natives
The release of 2009 debut Gorilla Manor saw Local Natives being compared to the likes of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, and Hummingbird will reinforce such parallels, although the Los Angeles quartet now use their influences to forge a more mature sound that’s all their own. This second album showcases a collection of exquisitely crafted tracks filled with shimmering soundscapes, perfectly refined drama, and lyrical themes exploring the darker side of the fame game and life on the road. The recent departure of bassist Andy Hamm has seemingly unaffected the band’s ability to create songs of layered beauty and warm intrigue of such high quality to make Hummingbird an early contender for album of 2013 – it’s that good. Taylor Rice and Kelsey Acer provide vocal harmonies in a fashion not dissimilar to how Grizzly Bear might approach their work, and the layers of barely-controlled guitars and drums are spread liberally over the top, most notably on the excellent ‘Heavy Feet’ and ‘Ceilings’. ‘Wooly Mammoth’ is another highlight, as a monumental wall of sound is built from a repetitive bass line and epic levels of percussion, before a perfectly toned guitar riff breaks it back down and then unleashes the force once again. The more delicate tracks are just as alluring; including the hazy ‘Mt. Washington’ and lilting ‘Colombia’, which sees Acer asking “Am I giving enough?” With Hummingbird, the answer is most definitely yes – this is an outstanding and essential album. (Infectious Music)

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