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Local Natives - Hummingbird Album Cover

Local Natives - Hummingbird

Reviewed by
9.0
Local Natives - Hummingbird
Record Label: Frenchkiss Records/ Infectious Records
Release Date: January 29, 2013
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Indie rock is getting prettier with every release. A genre that was once heavily focused on despondent boys thrashing out their broken hearts into their ramshackle guitars in basements and pubs has taken quite the left turn in the last couple of years with a whole new generation of folk and orchestra influenced bands taking over the genre and establishing themselves as the kings and queens of the music. The list is endless; Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, The National, Grizzly Bear - all names that are synonymous with modern indie rock and all wonderfully pretty bands. This is the point that Local Natives come in. Whilst not quite as famous as the aforementioned bands, Local Natives are another band that eschew lo-fi, DIY values and wholeheartedly embrace perfection and exactness with lush instrumentation, layered vocals and sweet melodies. On their debut album, 2009’s Gorilla Manor, the band found themselves stealing hearts with their brand of indie folk, now it’s four years later and they’ve returned with Hummingbird. So, does it live up to their debut?

It certainly does. It’s been a long four years since Gorilla Manor and the band have spent that time crafting and refining their sound, whilst, of course, taking over the world. They’ve encountered both the loss of their bassist, as well as creating the buzz of a thousand after nine triumphant SXSW sets; and Hummingbird shows exactly how much the band has grown. Hummingbird is an extremely mature album. From the first pulsating guitar of “You & I” to the closing swirl of “Bowery”, the album embraces beauty and delicacy. “You & I” slowly builds up before not quite exploding, but relaxing into a triumphant wall of sound, “Ceilings” is a lesson in warm finger-picked indie folk that always remains calm and controlled but has an infectious spine. One could go through each track of the release and describe it in the way one would describe an entire album; no song is without subtle nuance, layering and an abundance of instrumentation.

The production on the album is quite spectacular. Whilst I can’t say production is something I note usually, the record sounds absolutely massive. Never does anything sound out of place and despite the sheer barrage of instrumentation and layers throughout it everything sounds like it was absolutely necessary to make the record what it is. Trackwise, Hummingbird contains a plethora of highlights. Lead single, “Breakers” is as catchy as they come with its jangly guitars, infectious drumming and ‘ooohs’. Never does the track extend itself too much in order to be a stand out single, it just has a natural, calm catchiness to it and its chorus is absolutely wonderful. Another highlight is “Wooly Mammoth”. The drumming on the track is spectacular and somewhat goosebump inspiring; whilst the vocals, always a little reminiscent of Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, compliment the instrumentation perfectly with its warm tones and steadiness. “Wooly Mammoth” is the embodiment of an anthem, with the track being tailor-made for singing along and pumping one’s fist (in a baroque manner, of course). However, although these tracks are the highlights of the release, there isn’t really any lowlights (if it’s not a word, it is now). Each track sounds like it belongs here and none are to be missed.

The only criticism one can really apply to Local Natives is that they wear their influences on their album sleeve a little too much. At times, they sound a little too like Grizzly Bear, or a bit too Fleet Foxes-like and whilst, most of the time, this is perfectly acceptable as it only endears them that bit more to fans of the aforementioned bands - on the odd occasion it’s a little too close for comfort. “Black Balloons” is the main example of this. The guitar line is basically Bon Iver’s “Perth”, but just a little faster, and while it isn’t too detrimental to the rest of the release, it does slightly damage the band’s individuality. However, once you get past the occasional overly familiar feeling, Local Natives are very much their own band.

Overall, Hummingbird is a wonderful album. Each song manifests itself in a truly attractive manner and it’s a release that’s very much focused in the aesthetic. Fans of their debut might find themselves a little less instantly enthralled with this release, as it steers somewhat away from the catchy accessibility of Gorilla Manor, however with a little time given to it, Hummingbird embodies everything that’s beautiful about music.

Recommended If You LikeGrizzly Bear; Fleet Foxes; Arcade Fire; pretty things


Additional InformationTrack Listing
1. You & I
2. Heavy Feet
3. Ceilings
4. Black Spot
5. Breakers
6. Three Months
7. Black Balloons
8. Wooly Mammoth
9. Mt. Washington
10. Colombia
11. Bowery

Band Members
Taylor Rice
Kelcey Ayer
Ryan Hahn
Matt Frazier

9/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 27
03:42 PM on 01/27/13
#2
CellarGhosts
Blodtørst
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Their last album was pretty good but only had a few real tracks that stood out to me. This one is start to finish awesome.
08:02 PM on 01/27/13
#3
Thatguy101
Dive in and swim away
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Great review. This band has been one of my favorites as of about 2 years ago, seeing them in March for the first time. This CD didn't hit me as hard as Gorilla Manor, but I still find it really interesting and calming to listen to. I feel like the structures of their songs aren't as intricate as the first CD, like they just searched for a nice hook or riff and tried to layer over it as much as possible through each song, though it's done really well and each one definitely sounds beautiful. Love the lyrical content as well. They will continue to do great things.
12:05 AM on 01/28/13
#4
Jerold Sunga
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This album exceeded my expectations. Really fantastic. Also, I always keep noticing you using "whilst" a lot. But I guess it's just me. Good review, though.
12:47 AM on 01/28/13
#5
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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this album is fantastic, nice review Kelly
03:56 AM on 01/28/13
#6
ibelieveinjake
i have a headache
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Dessner left his mark all over this record.
05:32 AM on 01/28/13
#7
Jeff_Ryan
easy come and easy go, whatever
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This album is really pretty
06:36 AM on 01/28/13
#8
Chris Collum
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This album is really pretty but I'm afraid I don't have a ton that's positive to say about it besides that. I need to listen more certainly but it kind of bores me.
07:40 AM on 01/28/13
#9
BigEasy14
The Formulator
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Huge fan of Gorilla Manor. I hope this lives up to the caliber of their freshman release.
09:10 AM on 01/28/13
phillipjacob
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This was my most anticipated of the year and it's brilliantly lived up to my expectations. This album is beautiful and I feel it'll only get better with age.
10:10 AM on 01/28/13
pissand409
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Can't wait to actually pick up this album, the stream sounded awesome
11:31 AM on 01/28/13
xburningcoffin
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This album exceeded my expectations. Really fantastic. Also, I always keep noticing you using "whilst" a lot. But I guess it's just me. Good review, though.
second this
06:07 AM on 01/29/13
topher465
every shining time you arrive
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This album is really pretty but I'm afraid I don't have a ton that's positive to say about it besides that. I need to listen more certainly but it kind of bores me.

i think its a grower. it took me a lot of time to get into it. its not nearly as good as Gorilla Manor, but it's still good
06:09 AM on 01/29/13
Chris Collum
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i think its a grower. it took me a lot of time to get into it. its not nearly as good as Gorilla Manor, but it's still good
I'm working on it haha. So much fantastic music to listen to right now though, so it's having to take a back seat.

Hey is your avatar from the "Supercollider" Radiohead single? Having trouble placing it and another user has the same one too haha
08:48 AM on 01/29/13
topher465
every shining time you arrive
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I'm working on it haha. So much fantastic music to listen to right now though, so it's having to take a back seat.

Hey is your avatar from the "Supercollider" Radiohead single? Having trouble placing it and another user has the same one too haha
It's the artwork for Sunny day Real Estate's How It Feels To Be Something On

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