Los Angeles indie rock quartet, Local Natives release their French Kiss Records debut, Gorilla Manor to a surprising amount of media fanfare. The album got a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork as well as positive reviews from the Guardian and the BBC.
There is one sentence that seems to be present in ever review I’ve read about Gorilla Manor and that is that Local Natives bear striking resemblance to Fleet Foxes. Luckily I’m a bad music journalist and I have only heard one song by Fleet Foxes, so I come into Local Natives with very few preconceptions except that they sound like a band that is popular.
Local Natives’ sound is defined by their harmonizing vocals. Guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer all sing at once. But the lead-singer-by-committee approach in music is much different than the closer-by-committee approach in baseball where it usually means you don’t have any good closers. The lead-singer-by-committee allows the three vocalists to dazzle with their harmonies while never giving a distinct voice to the entire project.
For music journalists this can be a blessing or a curse. I like the harmonies but not having a singular voice to draw comparisons too. What do Local Natives vocal sound like? Crosby Stills and Nash is probably the closest I can come to describing it yet their music is very dissimilar. Musically the band is an indie rock band, with glimpses of Aloha and Broken Social Scene in the mix.
Gorilla Manor‘s biggest weakness is the folky songs end up sounding a little hokey when surrounded by modern indie rock tunes. It is a small complaint but it does take away from the album’s austere pathos.