// Album Recommendation

Local Natives

Hummingbird

(2013)

 

"You can't tell if the ceiling's rising
Or if the floor's falling out."

Hummingbird Album Cover Local Natives

Local Natives are very much a “product” of their time – a distinctly modern Indie-Rock band. Singer/guitarist Taylor Rice has cited Canadian group Broken Social Scene as an influence and listening to Local Natives’ busy rhythm section on many of the songs on their second album, Hummingbird, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The sonic palette of Los Angeles-based Local Natives also contains elements of talented contemporaries such as Grizzly Bear, Beach House, and fleet foxes. They’ve also been labeled by some critics as a sort of Indie version of Coldplay, a comparison that seems less obvious; it is, however, interesting that a few songs bring to mind Norwegian trio a-ha, one of Coldplay’s influences (all members are big fans). Just listen to Taylor Rice’s soaring Morten Harket-inspired vocals, as he sings the spine-tingling chorus of Three Months, and the polished production and piano of Mt. Washington, whose sound and style is slightly reminiscent of certain songs on a-ha’s 2009 album Foot Of The Mountain.

That’s not to say that Local Natives’ sound is derivative in any way whatsoever; the influences are subtle, woven into their own creative ideas to create a soundscape that’s very much their own. While each band member’s contributions are equally important – electric guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, harmonies – Matt Frazier’s drumming deserves special mention; his energetic drum fills and rhythms add excitement and originality to the group’s aural tapestry, in particular on tracks like Wooly Mammoth and the first single from the album, the grandiose Breakers. Hummingbird has its fair share of mid-tempo tracks, too: the smooth, gently chiming Ceilings is a wistful rumination on days gone by ("Hold the summer in your hands / 'Til the Summer turns to sand / We were staring at our ceilings / Thinking of what we'd give / To have one more day of sun"), and album opener You & I, a lament sung in a touchingly fragile voice, which tugs at one’s heartstrings (“I woke up with my green eyes blue / And all I think about is you”).

The lyrics on Hummingbird explore loss, sadness, guilt and post-crisis perseverance, inspired by the death of Kelcey Ayer’s mother and the departure of bassist Andy Hamm. Syncopated bass and stately piano comprise the elegiac, poignant ballad Columbia in which Kelcey Ayer addresses his deceased mother, questioning whether he did enough for her, while she was still alive: "If you never felt all of my love / I pray now you do". The album ends with Bowery, a gripping song that alternates between quiet, somber piano-led verses and skyrocketing, guitar-infused choruses. Produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner (who co-wrote three of the tracks), Hummingbird showcases Local Natives’ special chemistry through great songwriting, celestial harmonies and tight instrumental interplay.

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