Local Natives - Hummingbird 12"
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Local Natives' 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, was fully-formed and immediately pleasing, functioning at a level that lesser acts spend entire careers trying to reach. But it had a certain youthful scrappiness, too. Alongside expansive tracks like "Shape Shifter" and "Wide Eyes", there were the silly howls that introduced "Airplanes" and the shouty breakdown of "Sun Hands", both of which brought comparisons to Animal Collective. All told, it was very of-the-moment with influences to match. Guitarist/singer Taylor Rice cited Broken Social Scene in an interview around the time of the album's release, and anyone following along with big-tent indie rock could pick up on other borrowed elements: Grizzly Bear's choirboy sway, the National's starched-shirt seriousness, Fleet Foxes' rolling melodicism. But while the songwriting was strong, you had to wonder if the band would prove to be more than the sum of their influences. Hummingbird, Local Natives' second album, offers a tricky answer to that question. They're still on the same path-- no fashionable synths or newfound fixation with 1990s R&B here-- but innovation seems beside the point. This is a record of lateral growth, one that finds the band establishing their own place among their contemporaries. Ironically, they've found their sound with the assistance of one of their major forebears: the National's Aaron Dessner performs and contributes songwriting on Hummingbird, and shares production credit with the band while recording with them in his Brooklyn studio. (His brother and bandmate, Bryce, contributed horn arrangements to several songs, too.)