Local Natives - Hummingbird | Music Review

by Calvin Paradise | 1/30/13
8.5ARTIST INFO

A hummingbird is an exceptionally small bird that has the ability to flap its wings 12-80 times per second (depending on the species). On the flip side of all that work, a hummingbird also has the ability to go into a hibernation-like state (torpor) in order to rest, or survive if its food sources are scarce. Hummingbirds mainly subsist on a diet of nectar, a sweet, sugar-rich liquid which was allegedly the preferred beverage of the Greek gods.

Former buzz-band turned legitimately-really-good-bordering-on-great indie rockers Local Natives' second album is entitled Hummingbird.

It's a very fitting title.

***

There seems to be an unwritten rule about reviewing this album, and it's that you have to mentioned that The National's guitarist Aaron Dessner produced it. His touches can be seen all over the record, aside from the fact that he played on several of the songs. There's a fuller, more fleshed-out sound here that wasn't present on Gorilla Manor.

Overall the band's sound has matured on this record, become more their own if you will. Like its predecessor, the aforementioned Gorilla Manor, it still feels like a bit of a time capsule for the current incarnation indie rock. Without squinting you can see the influences of the likes of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes,  Bon Iver,  Arcade Fire,  and yes, The National in this album. But they're far subtler here than they were on the band's debut. More of a side dish than the main entree.

Much like the bird from which the album takes its name, the songs on this album seem to be expanding a great deal of energy floating. The album seems to be full of songs that have a rising tension to them, yet they never quite seem to break.

"Breakers," the first single off the record, is a perfect example of this:

While some of the songs on the album tend to run together, they're all so ethereal and lovely that it's tough to complain about it. The drumming alone, done exquisitely by Matt Frazier, is reason enough to give this album repeated listens.

 

"You & I"

 

"Heavy Feet"

For the most part, Hummingbird is filled with upbeat tracks like the two showcased above, but it's the piano-driven numbers like "Ceilings" that pack the most punch (read: that I like the most). Think of them as the 'torpor' of this hummingbird. (Yeah we're going with that gimmick. Sorry…)

The album's defacto closer (if you're anything like me you won't be able to pay attention to the one track that follows it) and standout track is a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking number which lead singer Kelcey Ayer wrote about his late mother.

Listen to it as many times as you need (I hit five straight before forcing both my roommates to listen to it), preferably with headphones on.

When you're finished, call your mom.

 

"Columbia"

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