6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Local Natives - No longer restless,
This review is from: Hummingbird (Audio CD)
Hummingbird" represents the sound of a band coming of age and stretching out. Local Natives debut album "Gorilla Manor" charmed many a cold heart and the band members Taylor Rice (guitar/vocals), Kelcey Ayer (keyboards/vocals), Ryan Hahn (guitar/vocals), Andy Hamm (bass) and Matt Frazier (drums) have reconvened determined to prove that that there is plenty of milage in the tank and that this band of Californian minstrels are a true force. In a thoughtful review the BBC view of this album is ultimately that it represents a disappointment arguing that "could have been something spectacular, rather than the very solid set that it is". Frankly this reviewer can only issue a loud and formal disagreement. Granted the album does have echoes of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, but its certainly not derivative. What it does show is meticulous craftsmanship and that Ayer in particular is becoming a songwriter capable of articulating the deepest emotions in fine melodic style. No where is more apparent than on the fine opener "You and I" which builds throw pounding drums into a beast of a song with a searing vocal by Ayer and a melody that pulls you in like dust to a Dyson. This splendid start sets a trend on "Hummingbird" namely a general feeling of stately elegance as opposed to the instant gratification of their debut. It is because of this that this album does take more concentrated work and harder listens but the rewards are richer. For example the opening single "Breakers" is not really a standout on first listens sounding like it could have been located on Arcade Fire's "Funeral" (Local Natives have of course supported them on tour) with similar drum patterns to that used by the great Canadians. Time however reveals a song full of texture and longing whilst building to a furious crescendo.
The presence of Aaron Dessner of The National to co-produce this album also plays a big part, One clear standout is "Heavy Feet" a song which does have that rolling thunder of drums associated with Cincinnati's finest and one can imagine Matt Berninger doing a much deeper classic baritone cover of this. In terms of sheer beauty it is "Ceilings" that really grabs your lapels from first listen and doesn't let go and here more than most other tracks we are listening to the Local Natives own distinctive darker sound. "Colombia" will inevitably draw some comparison to the songwriting skills of Thom Yorke with its almost Radiohead like start, this can be easily forgiven when we discover the track was written after the death of Ayer's mother and the raw vocal and emotion that underpins it is a thing of wonder as he questions "Am I loving enough". It is the bands finest song to date by a country mile. There are a couple of missteps with "Three Months" sounding disjointed and the Jeff Buckley style vocal grating by the songs conclusion. Equally the jury is out on "Wholly Mammoth", which does irritatingly remind this reviewer of a Yes song, but its early days after all. These slips are however forgiven with the lovely acoustic strum of "Mt Washington" which does put some real distance between the sound on their debut and is a fine track.
Finally its worth seeking out the Deluxe version of the album which contains three extra tracks "Palms" "11-11" and Ingrid". It is the almost hymnal quality of the middle song "11-11" which impresses most and conjures images of summer days and perfect sunsets. Overall then it is a rare pleasure to report significant progression and promise fulfilled by a band that have oozed class since stepping onto the musical stage. in the last analysis listen and learn to love the big closer "Bowery" and ever so quietly blow a polite raspberry at the BBC review. Hummingbird is out now on Infectious label - how appropriate.
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Initial post: 30 Jan 2013 22:51:56 GMT
The Wolf says:
I like it too. Auntie Beeb should take another listen!
Well said as usual.
Something a tad left-field for you perhaps but give
Beak's new album '>>' a go. I've had fun with it!
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