National Album Review: Hummingbird by Local Natives

Posted on February 25, 2013 in Arts & Culture, Music
By Sam Hill

Sam Hill | The Free Press

lt may be too early to call it, but I’m willing to bet that Hummingbird by Local Natives will be considered one of the best albums of the year.

Local Natives’ 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, was a hit. The melodic and energetic lyrics combined with the choir-style hooks left listeners in love with this Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear love-child. Hummingbird does not disappoint, as it brings back those same elements. While the subject matter might be a little dreary, the style is the same, and that’s what’s going to please fans. Some believed their debut would be the last of the band, a memory of some friends having a good time while they could, but they managed to keep up the pace and create a sophomore effort worthy of another round of applause. It’s not innovative, but it’s a step up in quality.

Less than a minute into the first track, “You & I,” keyboardist and vocalist Kelcey Ayer confesses, “I woke up with my green eyes blue / And all I think about is you / And it feels.” These heartbreaking sentiments can be found spread throughout most tracks on the album, in lyrics that are the best songwriting by the Local Natives to date. And with the ambient feel to the song and light rhythm, it’s a great choice for the opening track.

The brightness and upbeat sound of Gorilla Manor is mostly absent. Ayer’s mother passed away last summer, which clearly had a direct impact on the songwriting. Like Gorilla Manor’s “Airplanes,” “Colombia” is a track for a lost love. The former is for Ayer’s grandfather, and the latter is for his mother. While you might not understand through the first listen, keep his loss in mind while you’re listening, and the beautiful lyrics quickly turn heavy and somber. Over a slowly building piano line and ominous, distorted guitar riffs, Ayer sings, “The day after I had counted down / All of your breaths / Down until there were none / A hummingbird crashed right / in front of me and I understood / all you did for us.” This is that one song that will really make you think – one that you could waste the day away zoning out to.

Every song on the album is fantastic, though, from the intensity of “Wooly Mammoth,” to the light-hearted and delicate rhythm of “Ceilings.” The band has amazing chemistry, always weaving in and out of tracks with ease and swirling around the vocalist. Each song just feels complete with no note, riff, pause or beat missing.

Like I said, this is album of the year material. If you’re a fan, go buy the album. If you’re not, go grab the album and become a fan within the first few minutes.