Sophomore slumps are a hard thing to avoid when making music; so many bands fall victim to this unfortunate phenomenon. Luckily, Local Natives isn’t one of those bands. Their highly-anticipated sophomore release, Hummingbird, starts off on a high note. From the very first swelling synth stab, the slow-burning, dissonant gem “You & I” soars into the sky, dreamy and delicious. “Breakers,” the first single off the album, is another great example of dissonance done well; the skittering percussion and hazy harmonies are a treat. Local Natives’ use of surround-sound percussion is definitely the band’s strong suit. The pounding toms, the piercing snares, the handclaps – the rhythm on this record is so tight and full of momentum. Different rhythmic elements are combined to create textures and an interesting experience for the listener.
Hummingbird is largely a personal, cathartic record, reflecting on loss (the death of one band member’s mother) and chaos (the whirlwind that surrounded the band’s newfound recognition). The level of song writing has matured, and as a result, the record gives off a heavy, melancholic vibe. It felt as though there was a weight pressing down on me as I was listening to certain songs. Jangly piano riffs, stringy guitars, fuzzy synths, plaintive vocals and knock-out percussion come together in a powerful way. That being said, this album’s definitely a grower. Though it sometimes feels like Local Natives haven’t completely settled into their own skin while the band continues to search for a signature sound, this dissonant sonic evolution is a welcome one, and is an encompassing listen.
Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky (Twitter @marisodo)
Album Review: Local Natives – Hummingbird