You haven’t heard quality music until you’ve listened to a Local Natives album. Around 2008, Taylor Rice (vocals, guitar), Kelcey Ayer, (vocals, keyboard, percussion) Ryan Hahn (vocals, guitar) and Matt Frazier (drums) formed the band. Following their 2009 release Gorilla Manor, a debut album so highly acclaimed that it is considered a musical masterpiece, the highest of standards were set for the four-piece indie rockers. But after four long years of wishful waiting, Hummingbird surpasses all expectations and offers fervent listeners 44 minutes of pure bliss.
Local Natives has the ability to simultaneously capture both sadness and joy in a way that resonates so beautifully that it will make listeners shed tears and experience full-on moments of catharsis. It’s breathtaking how all of the instruments come together in a well-conducted medley that creates equilibrium between the overflowing amounts of chanting and clapping. This album has a whimsical feel to it as the three-part harmonies lift you away on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Evidently, the magic of wanderlust is still in the air.
In comparison to Gorilla Manor, the tone of Hummingbird is more somber, overcast by a dark shade of sorrow. Yet amidst the murky fog, a beam of optimism shines through, as demonstrated in the opening songs “You & I” and “Heavy Feet.” As Local Natives explores the human psyche, they continue to stay true to their roots, guilty of having a few folky moments here and there on songs like “Wooly Mammoth.”
Tracks such as “Colombia” and “Three Months” reminisce the calm after the storm, featuring a slower build-up emphasized by the vocals and keyboard. “Black Balloons” will bring out happier sentiments and remind fans of the good old Gorilla Manor days. From beginning to end, a jolt of chills surges through the body as every guitar string is strummed, every piano key is stroked, and every chorus is sung.
If I haven’t subliminally accentuated how incredible Local Natives is enough, please stop me in my tracks. I literally cannot even begin to express how their music moves me, and I am so overcome with every emotion that pours through the speakers—word for word, track by track. This album isn’t quite as buoyant or upbeat as the last, but Hummingbird leaves the half-smile on your face that you catch yourself making after finding beauty in something tragic.
Local Natives never disappoints and sets aside the skepticism that Gorilla Manor was a “happy accident”. This band has made no mistakes—on the contrary, their music is the closest thing I know to perfection.