Local Natives– Hummingbird
Record Label: Frenchkiss Records
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
We’re only about two months into 2013 and I haven’t listened to a lot of indie-rock or indie-pop records so far; the only ones I’ve really dove into were Twenty One Pilots major label debut Vessel, Tegan and Sara’s new record Heartthrob, and English trio’s The Joy Formidable’s sophomore record Wolf’s Law. All of these records are wonderful, and I’m glad I picked them up. One other record I decided to pick up fairly recently was CA indie-pop quartet Local Natives sophomore record Hummingbird. I haven’t heard of this band until a couple weeks ago when a relative of mine posted about winning tickets to a show of theirs on a local radio station, and I had recently heard about Hummingbird, but I never listened to them. Well, I made a weekly trip to Best Buy to pick up some newly released records that I was interested in picking up, and on one of the racks near the aisle, they had a lot of records that were on sale for a couple more weeks, mainly indie records, including Local Natives’ new record. I saw they had a lot of copies, so I decided not to get it, but the record was on my mind all weekend, so after work on that Monday, I bought a copy. I brought it home, and listened to it with open ears and an open mind, and absolutely loved it. I was sure I’d love it, anyway, because this is an indie-pop band that’s been getting a lot of buzz recently. I really hope they make it into the mainstream, because they definitely have that “sound” that people would absolutely go crazy for. I can totally see this band blowing up more in the next year, honestly. This band is the kind of indie-pop that I really enjoy, and has been getting a lot of recognition in the mainstream a lot more, with bands such as the Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, The xx, and others. To sum this record up in a single word, it’s “pretty.” One of the staffers of Absolutepunk.net who reviewed this record described it that, and I could easily hear that as I was listening to the record for the first time on my laptop speakers. It’s a very pretty record. It’s pretty, delicate, fragile, lo-fi, quiet, but still packs quite a punch. In a way, the title of this record Hummingbird, really lives up to the sound this band has given us, the listeners, with this record. I digress, however. This band specializes in something other indie-pop/folk bands are doing, which is three-part harmonies, and this band uses them quite often, and quite well. This record is filled with them. The record is about 44 minutes, which seemed a bit too long for me at first glance, but it really works. It doesn’t feel like it’s 44 minutes, because I really love what I hear. With all of that being said, let’s dive into this record faster than a hummingbird, shall we?
The record begins with “You and I,” and immediately, it sets the tone for the whole record. Lead vocalist Taylor Rice starts off with his very unique vocals while the backing instrumentation has a very ambient and dream-pop sound. The chorus also seems to build into a three-part harmony, which is something this band utilizes a lot, as I mentioned earlier. They certainly use that to their advantage, because it’s something I don’t hear very often, but I have heard it within indie/folk, and it’s great. Rice really has the chops for this kind of music, as do the other members (minus drummer Matt Frazier). It’s a nice cute song about a guy and his significant other, and it’s certainly a nice opening track. Second song “Heavy Feet” begins with a three-part harmony over a nice quiet drumbeat and ambient guitar work, along with handclaps thrown in during the chorus; this is one of my favorite tracks on the record, hands down. This is another song summarizes their sound, but it does sound a bit like “You and I.” That’s the main downfall here – while their sound is really cool, the songs tend to run together, because everything sounds the same. There are very few moments of something different. It kind of feels like a 44-minute song sometimes, and since I do enjoy this band’s sound, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re a really “chill” dream-folk band that utilizes three-part harmonies in a very interesting way. Fourth track “Black Spot” is a track that switches things up; it’s a five-minute track that lays quite low for the first few minutes, and then builds into a very nice crescendo before it ends. It’s a very quiet and ambient track, but it does switch things up for a brief moment. The same goes for next track “Breakers,” but it’s the opposite of a quiet track. It’s the epitome of their sound; a lot of bands have songs that one could easily see achieving chart-topping success, and this song is definitely one of them. I could also see first and second tracks “You and I,” and “Heavy Feet” achieving some mainstream stardom. And with folk/indie making a huge comeback in the last few years, it could totally happen.
A few songs go by, and they’re enjoyable, but don’t do a lot for me. The next song that really interests me is “Mt. Washington.” I’m not sure if this interests me in a good way or bad way. This song is rather repetitive, which is good, because it makes it memorable in a way, but it’s not the strongest track, either. In all honesty, the first half of the record is where it shines. Next track “Colombia” is another track that interests me, and this time, in a good way. The backbone of the song is a piano riff sprinkled into the ambient sound they already have going on, but it works nicely. Not to mention, this song has lyrics that allude to the album title as well. It’s also the longest song at about 5 minutes, with fourth track “Black Spot” being just a bit shorter than that. I also absolutely love the repetition of the chorus, which goes, “Every night I ask myself, am I loving enough?” For whatever reason, this sends chills down my spine. I absolutely love this line and delivery of it. Last track “Bowery” is also a very lovely track, too; this is a really nice and relaxing closing track. It kind of has a very surprising guitar “solo” in the middle of the song, which is completely different from the rest of the record, because nothing like this is on here. It ends nicely, and the record definitely leaves a great sound in my ears, basically. I would certainly recommend this record to any fan of indie-pop, indie-rock, folk, or anything like that. It’s a great indie-pop/folk-pop record that should please fans of the genre. While they don’t really do a lot that’s unique, the three-part harmonies in most of the songs are really awesome, and do make them stand out a bit, at least.