Local Natives’ music — understated at times and powerful at others — is the point at which the psychedelic and folk genres intersect. The band calms and provokes their audience both lyrically and melodically, and they consistently deliver music that transports listeners to a beautiful, thought-provoking world.
The Silverlake-based band has not only impressed the indie community as a whole, but they’ve also elevated the reputation of the current Los Angeles music scene in general. As a proud Los Angeles music fan, I feel honored to listen to and thoroughly enjoy new Local Natives music once again, this time via their sophomore album, Hummingbird.
After riding a wave of success after the release of their debut album, Gorilla Manor, Local Natives chose to both challenge and incorporate the style of that album in the creation of Hummingbird. This time around, the band gave us an album that is soothing and carefully crafted in comparison to the pure complexity and authority of their freshman effort. While two very different albums, both Hummingbird and Gorilla Manor fit together as a cohesive collection in which the band showcases their creativity and growth without losing their unique style.
Active songs like “Sun Hands” and “Airplanes” are missing, instead replaced with almost Shins-like drawl. Though previously compared to indie sensation Grizzly Bear, Local Natives has slightly deviated from that path, creating an album that seems more like a polished version of the music of Milo Greene — a fresh-faced talent that also resides in Los Angeles.
Album opener, “You & I,” reveals the theme of the album immediately. The strong yet gentle track is the first stop in transporting listeners to an otherworldly state that becomes utterly addicting. Lyrically the song sets the tone of youthful uncertainty. Crooning “I woke up with my green eyes blue. All I think about is you,” the vocalist reveals the delicate connection between the committed heart and the wavering mind.
Once the listener is jolted into the world of the album, it is almost impossible to exit. Like Local Natives’ contemporaries Grizzly Bear’s recent album, Shields, Hummingbird flows beautifully. Although the album morphs and grows from track to track, Local Natives have assembled the songs like a puzzle; each is individually striking, yet they all fit together perfectly.
The album’s first single, the nuanced “Breakers,” is a particularly psychedelic piece. The flowing line of light vocal melody behind the louder lyrics and strong beats creates a surreal experience, which, oddly enough, does not dissipate with each listen. With dubious, self-reaffirming lyrics such as “I know nothing’s wrong, but I’m not convinced” and “Just don’t think so much, don’t think so much,” you can feel the uncertainty behind the wobbling mantras. Though the music flows freely, one can never be truly freed from an, at times, paranoid mind.
The single “Heavy Feet” is one of the more lively tracks on Hummingbird. While it maintains the album’s theme and quality, it stands out with its folksy atmosphere. The beautiful yet somehow haunting vocals complement the sprawling musical composition, which morphs from an almost tentative, understated melody to an explosive conclusion that is powerful without being overwhelming in the slightest.
The song’s lyrics are undeniably relatable: “Maybe I know better than / to read more than what’s there.” Abandoned by the one he views as “holy,” the song’s protagonist proclaims, “After everything / left the sun, shivering.” We learn from our unsteady relationships and experiences to break free from our fragility and come into our own, and in this way, the lyrics beautifully match the music to create a single, tangible experience.
As I did with their freshman album, I know I will be listening to Hummingbird not only in the immediate future, but also for years to come. Unlike many of today’s buzzbands, Local Natives have staying power, a theory made fact by this album. Experiencing the ebb and flow of each nuanced piece, I feel challenged yet free, and as a Los Angeles listener, Hummingbird truly makes me proud to call the band by their name — Local Natives.
Local Natives Tour Dates:
03-18 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
03-19 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
03-22 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Ballroom
03-23 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
03-25 – Covington, KY – Madison Theatre
03-26 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
03-30 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
04-01 – Providence, RI – Fete
04-04 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
04-05 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
04-25 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
04-26 – Seattle, WA – Neptune
04-27 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Commodore Theatre
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