Los Angeles-based Local Natives finished their self-produced debut, Gorilla Manor, over a year before it was released, which was very unfortunate timing. Just before finishing the project, The Dodos released their wonderful sophomore album, Visiter, The Fleet Foxes released their amazing eponymous debut, and just after finishing the project, Grizzly Bear released Veckatimest. Why does that all matter? Well, listen to the album. Had Local Natives released their album immediately after finishing it, they would have seemed less derivative of the aforementioned bands and more a part of the movement. To some, sounding derivative is no big deal, to others it’s a band riding on the coat tails of hard-working creatives.
Gorilla Manor is outstanding for four reasons. First, the drums. It’s not too often you hear an album where the drums are so far forward in the mix, mostly because it will typically distract from the melodic instruments. In this case, drummer Matt Frazier creates unique beats that deserve to stand out and don’t distract in anyway that takes away from the rest of the song.
Second, the band’s ability to comfortably shift from the sweet, melodic vocal style (reminiscent of Fleet Foxes) into a shouting, punk-inspired vocal style (reminiscent of The Dodos) without it being a jarring experience for the listener.
Third, the lyrics gain depth with each listen. Initially you might think there isn’t much there to pay attention to, which is often the case with younger bands. But, as you listen to the album more, things start clicking. You realize they’ve found this happy balance between naivety and wisdom.
Finally, and definitely most important, the band’s passion. You can tell this rag-tag group of indie boys are having a blast doing what they are doing. So much fun that their passion often invokes a visceral response on the listeners behalf. It’s a rare thing found in studio recorded music, so cherish it when it’s found.