LOCAL NATIVES – Gorilla Manor (Infectious)

Well, it’s here, and it is every bit as good as I had hoped it would be. From opener ‘Wide Eyes’ (a track that I hadn’t previously heard) you can hear straight away the care that the band have taken with the harmonies and arrangement. The rhythm beaten out on the rim of the drums drives the song forward, sweeping through the lush vocal harmonies towards a thundering finale where the band chuck in everything they have (and that’s a lot considering that all of them are multi-instrumentalists). ‘Airplanes’ (the first song of their that I heard many months ago, and even then I knew that they were something special) is a joyous, upbeat piece, with pounding drums and some great jangly guitar-work. ‘Sun Hands’ ups the pace for a tune with some exquisite twists and turns in the melody, all held together with a relentless driving beat, and when the guitar erupts at the end it is just the icing on the cake. ‘World News’ has a charming country tinge to the vocals, and when they all harmonise together at the end it is just stunning. ‘Camera Talk’ is more stripped back, with crashing guitar chords and urgent vocals at the beginning, leading into a slower chorus, before the whole thing takes off again, taking in some staccato violin along the way. ‘Cards And Quarters’ is another song which shows off how well that group’s individual voices can blend together on this slow, bluesy track, and their take on Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’ is as reverential as you would expect, while at the same time making it sound their very own. ‘Who Knows Who Cares’ is a lovely ballad, and the first time that the band use a full orchestra, which when combined with the lush vocals gives the song a burst of extra power. ‘Cubist Dream’ goes in totally the opposite direction, with piano and guitar the main instruments, encompassing an emotive vocal performance. ‘Stranger Things’ was always one of my favourite tracks from the demos I heard, with a gorgeous melody, soaring vocals, and that signature drumming all coming together in the perfect song. ‘We Come Back’ has a CSNY feel to it, with the harmony vocals being utilised in a different way, and the gentle piano backing makes this a lovely way to close the album. If there is one thing above all else that I love about this album it is that these songs have obviously had so much care lavished on them - every one is perfectly arranged and played, with harmony vocals and guitars in just the right places, and the tunes are just so catchy that you can’t help but smile and sing along. Definitely one of my albums of the year so far, and I can’t recommend it any more highly without sounding like I am in the pay of the band. And I managed to do this whole review without mentioning Fleet Foxes………oh…damn!
 
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