Following their successful 2011 debut Gorilla Manor, Local Natives have distinguished themselves yet again as praiseworthy artists with their new album Hummingbird.
Rarely is the tone of an entire album accurately set within the first 10 seconds of vocal, but the entrance of Kelcey Aye during You and I does just that. Vivid in its delivery and melancholy by nature, the substance of his voice invokes woeful and beautiful colour into the music right from the outset to the very end of album. When coupled with the band’s often indistinct and cloudy soundscapes, the vocals either pierce straight through and soar above or meld right into the music, becoming as ethereal as the music itself.
Songs such as Black Spot and Woolly Mammoth are most potent when multiple melodies seamlessly conjoin to form a labyrinth of sounds and ideas. While these compositions are certainly adventurous and original, this album can’t be called daringly experimental. On the flip side however, it would be inappropriate to think that this album is stylistically restricted to any indie rock format.
In contrast to these complex melodic integrations, slower tracks such as Three Months and Ceilings demonstrate that the same amount of musicianship and technicality can be invested with more subtlety, to create peaceful but equally unpredictable and sombre songs.
As an album, Hummingbird demonstrates a great balance between tenderness and pace, tranquillity and technicality, all of which can be found in the closing track Bowery. How each melody and phrase is pieced together is almost unfathomable, but taken as a whole each song is an intricate tapestry, demonstrating that Local Natives truly have something original to offer.
In contrast to their debut release, however, fans won’t find any upbeat tracks resembling Who Knows Who Cares; the album is most definitely a melancholy experience. Though this is never overbearing, it is always beautiful and Hummingbird is certainly a commendable and exciting second release.
Review by Guy Hirst