Wots the deal with Local Natives? Do they make catchy indie pop or are they trying to make a statement? Are they accessible weird like Of Montreal, offbeat weird like Animal Collective, pop like Fleet Foxes, good like Grizzly Bear, or great like Arcade Fire?
The answer to all these questions: Yes.
Gorilla Manor, the debut album from L.A.’s Local Natives, is one of the most interesting records I’ve had the fortune to hear this year. There are elements of a lot of indie bands you’ve heard before, but I don’t think you’ve heard them in this combination. Or with this level of versatility. This band can do wicked choruses primed for indie rock concerts or radio airplay (“Airplanes”); tribal David Byrne stuff and chant-rock (“World News”; “Sun Hands”); Beach Boys/Beach House pop (“World News”); basic rock and roll (“Camera Talk”); and far-out freakfests (“Shape Shifter”). There’s even a Talking Heads cover (“Warning Sign”) that does justice to the original. No. Dare I say it? It surpasses the original. They’ve got great lyrics, great harmonies, and the music is tightly crafted and performed with intensity and power. In fact, the harmonies and “jam sensibilities” make this album so dense and rich that it’s impossible to identify any breakout performances or bandleader here. The band is a unit–a force of music. It’s not often that one hears a group as well knit as this one.
This album gets my highest recommendation. On Frenchkiss records, home of Passion Pit, The DoDos, and The Antlers. Fast becoming one of the greatest indie labels out there.