Even as an avid fan of indie music sung by stereotypical forlorn males, I discarded folk alternative band Local Natives’ first album, Gorilla Manor, as nothing more than an easy cash grab of the popularity of folk music. Why? I don’t know considering I never gave the album a fair chance. At that point in time, more than anything, it was a feeling of over saturation. Everywhere you looked there was a bushy bearded man in a beanie and plaid, strumming an acoustic guitar with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
It was off-putting and too much of a good thing. (I’m looking at all of you, Bon Iver obsessives and copycats.) So much so that I began listening to purely female based artists and bands just to give myself a fresh cleanse of such music. (Robyn, Ellie Goulding and Laura Marling being the saving graces.)
Now after a year or so sabbatical, I’m ready to dive back into the folk scene, and luckily, my first outing proves to possibly be the first album I’ve loved of 2013.
Proving that sometimes a sophomore slump really is just a myth, Local Natives’ second full length album, Hummingbird, whisks you away into a world of rainy days and whispers of remorse and hope.
It’s a small departure from their first album, but nothing that will scare away diehard fans and may very likely draw in more new ones, such as myself.
There isn’t anything mind-blowingly exceptional about Hummingbird, failing to capture the commanding nature that other indie bands have (think Horse Feathers). Yet, despite that, it is entirely gripping and manages to grab the attention of the listener with its melodic atmosphere and unobtrusive songwriting.
It’s a brilliantly constructed album that succeeded in pulling me in, a non-fan, and keeping me listening for the entirety of the twelve track album – including the bonus track. It’s melancholic with songs tinged with such overwhelming lament and emotion that it reminds a listener of the stories music can tell without coming out and saying as much.
Musically, it’s very skilled. There’s a consistent rhythmic undercurrent that should inspire envy in other indie drummers. Just because the bands nature is soft and provides images on musicians composing songs in the middle of the woods with little critters at their windows doesn’t mean that the drumming, literally the heartbeat of a song, to be expelled all together. It’s all about moderation of vocals and instruments in folk band and which one a musician relies on to carry most of the story.
There are haunting and subtly powerful vocals, sturdy guitar playing that keeps the band afloat, but it’s all of the components put together than make it such a listenable CD.
This is an album that sounds earnest and heartfelt, and I know that personally I will be listening to it for the next month or so to get through the hazy February. Need a new list of songs for a lazy day where you need something that will actually engage your senses? Hummingbird will do so and maybe even make a fan out of you like it did with me.
Tracks That Will Make You A Fan: “Breakers” “Balloon” “Columbia”