Local Natives, Gorilla Manor
The buzzed-about East L.A. quintet crash lands with a fully formed, subtly uplifting debut
Hotter than Satan's own private furnace following their appearances at SXSW '09, Local Natives crash-land with a fully-formed debut, which draws on elements of Americana, '60s pop, '80s indie, even post-rock, and sounds both vitally current, and unlike anything else.
The quintet reside together, Monkees-like, in a shared house in hip Silverlake, East Los Angeles. There, they have spent the past couple of years piecing together these intricate tunes, a five-way collective of diverse tastes and ambitions."Wide Eyes" exquisitely ushers in the local sound, its lyric questioning Man's need to see in order to believe, mirroring the speculative nature of the accompanying music. Amongst the components: a tingling, Orange Juice-y guitar arpeggio; skittering, Tortoise-like rhythms and soaring three-part harmonies from Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice.
The latter have occasioned the Natives' tagging by certain peers as "the new Fleet Foxes," but a far more chemically-enhanced alt-rockin' blood pumps in these veins, apparent in the yowling, thrashy sequences in "Sun Hands." Elsewhere, delicate blasts of brass ("Shape Shifter") and strings ("Stranger Things," "Who Knows, Who Cares") evoke the joyful heartswells of Arcade Fire. In "Camera Talk"'s skanking chorus, there's perhaps a faint nod, too, to Vampire Weekend's 'calypso indie.'
More seasoned listeners will detect deeper roots, from the harmony deluge of the Byrds and CSNY, through to the galloping version of Talking Heads' "Warning Sign." That polyrhythmic post-punk overhaul fits so seamlessly with the rest of Gorilla Manor that you'd never guess it wasn't one of the tight-knit fivesome's self-composition — in itself, a decent commendation. Either way, it's a marvelous, subtly uplifting record which quickly gets under your skin.