By Katelyn Harrop Assistant Entertainment Editor
Richly beautiful and starkly engaging, Los Angeles based Local Natives’ “Hummingbird” has a depth and maturity that far surpasses what is characteristic of a sophomore album. Despite the natural opportunity for growth offered by the group’s two-year recording hiatus, the addition of producer, Aaron Dessner, can be at least partially credited for the success of the album. Dessner is a cofounder of accomplished indie-rock band, The National and has successfully produced for the likes of Doveman and Sharon Van Etten. Dessner has been involved in the industry for over 12 years and his experience is exemplified through “Hummingbird’s” cohesive and seasoned sound.
In contrast to Local Natives’ production addition, the band did record without original bassist, Andy Hamm. But front man Taylor Rice picked up the slack successfully and Hamm’s missing musicianship was hardly noticed. The album flows smoothly from start to finish but the first two tracks are particularly notable. “You & I” and “Heavy Feet”, are catchy and energizing, setting a tone that lasts throughout the set.
Although it is unlikely that you will listen to Hummingbird in such a way (I know I didn’t), it almost feels as though the album was intended for Vinyl. The album takes a serious commitment from the listener to absorb everything it has to offer. I listened to the album twice while multitasking, but I found that I got the most out of it when listening to it continuously, uninterrupted, and with minimal distractions. As strange as it may sound,“Hummingbird” offers you what you are willing to offer to it. If you wish to listen to it casually, perhaps as background noise, you will find a beautiful album veering on easy listening or ambient. But if you are willing to commit to seriously exploring the album, you will find a complex and beautifully woven work. Rice’s unique tone, chilling falsetto, and creative lyrics further deepen the album and are fully supported by the distinctively charged rhythms of drummer Matt Fraizer. The slight critiques that I do have of the album only bolsters the idea that despite their success, Local Natives can only further improve. I recommend “Hummingbird” for fans of “Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes, “High Violet” by The National and the self-titled album by the Broken Bells.