Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

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Rating: ★★★★½

This California band just barely began making waves back in 2009 after successful shows and a rollicking time at SXSW.  All those things slowly began to build a lot of attention for the group, and finally we have come to the release of Gorilla Manor by Local Natives.  Listening to this for several months now, it’s the most complete record to come out in 2010, and will continue to garner extensive praise for the group.

When you first listen to Gorilla Manor, at least for this writer, I couldn’t shy away from thinking of Fleet Foxes, which is entirely due to the multiple-pat vocal harmonies the band uses. But the more that I let it unfold, the more that I began to see there are so many little touches across the album that it’s clear the group is doing their own thing entirely.

You come across those touches in the first song,  “Wide Eyes.” It seems as if the drummer barely hits the drums, other for the snare fills, as you can clearly hear the banging of the sticks atop the rim of the drum.  It’s something the band utilizes throughout the whole affair, giving a sort of tribal feel to their California-tinged summery pop. In fact, it distracts listeners from some tight-knit guitar work, that rarely seems to nod towards a folk sound, which is what one would think the band would imitate, if you only listened to the vocals.

“Airplanes,” the second song, begins with some piano noodling, before the vocals soar atop the steady percussive drum beat. Everything about the chorus here is perfect; each time I hear “I want you back,” I just get this chill; it’s the execution of the perfect song.  You could say the same thing for the following track, “Sun Hands,” the band’s first single off the album, but I’m sticking with “Airplanes.”  Still, people will love the usage of gang vocals at the 3 minute mark of “Sun Hands,” which provides a different dynamic before the band lashes into a little post-punk jam session.

One of the best things about Gorilla Manor, aside from the music itself, is that the majority of the songs are well-over the three minute mark.  Cleverly, Local Natives are able to sustain your interest throughout, leaving you with an album you can really go inside, immersing yourself entirely.  Each song has enough movement to keep it interesting, as the band doesn’t remain static for long, if ever.  That says a lot about the group, who can go in multiple directions in a song like “Warning Signs,” and hold onto a sense of cohesiveness within the song itself.   It really is hard to find a song not worthy of listening to multiple times.  Well done.

In the end, you can say that Local Natives have spent a great deal of time honing their craftsmanship, and Gorilla Manor is the ultimate reward for listeners and the band alike.  You’ll find that the differentiation and light changes will keep you interested all the way until the end, allowing you to finally spend time with a solid record you’ll want to listen to time and time again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/02-Airplanes-1.mp3]

Download: Local Natives – Airplanes [MP3]