Local Natives: Gorilla Manor

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Local Natives 

Written By:

Theo Ellington

16th November 2009
At 18:13 GMT

1 comment(s)

Almost as if they received some sticker alerting them they’d made it into the club, the mere gleaning of forum posts pertaining to the band reveal almost constant comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire and the requisite mention of the title 'the next big thing' on every other communique.

Indeed there may well be similarities in sound to perhaps fleet foxes and their ilk. Sure, we walk through our lives much of the time by the use of copious amounts of comparisons, but surely the primary question concerning any band should always be whether they’re able to stand on their own feet? Do they do anything to set them apart from their contemporaries?

As it turns out the answer does appear to fall into the positive region with Local Natives. Soon, all those comments of comparisions oscillating in our figurative ears faded into obscurity as it became easier to hear what Local Natives are capable of in themselves.

With the first full release from the quintet, it’s a high standard of introduction to their musical ideas. "Airplanes" shows immediately a strong grasp of musical structure. The wonderful changes from tranquil moments to the slightly agitated chants in "Sun Hands" reaffirm this as a lift in the amplitude of the track forms a slight distortion to the sounds of the guitar to cause a strong contrast from one idea to the next.

Perhaps there is an overuse of what would be thought their best merit, the howling vocals, as heard in the uplifting "Shape Shifter" and a lot of the other twelve tracks, but with more listens this slight annoyance can turn to glee and joy.

When the focus is actually drawn away from this concept on "Camera Talk" a fuller realisation of potential is felt, as catchy keys and a strong percussive effect take over to become the backbone of the song. Apart from the fact that the song is still overflowing with other qualities popping up and strengthening the song at regular intervals.

"Warning Sign" is also a case where transition is the crucial instrument of success with the band turning from calming shifting voices to rebellious chanting and back again.

The importance of piano becomes more prominent in the latter parts of Gorilla Manor, allowing a more thoughtful side to manifest itself on "Who Knows Who Cares", "Cubism Dream" and "Strange Things".

Every year without fail there arises a number of bands generally living like predators of whatever success they can drain from a host band, If the fans have their way Local Natives will be the next to follow this order. Gorilla Manor though is a great album and we can only hope that the band follow the slightly more difficult path of self-exploration and ignore the parasitic desire of an easy entry into someone else’s spotlight that may present itself along the way.

Rating:  8 / 10

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