At a first glance Hummingbird, Local Natives’ sophomore album sound as a pretty straight forward extension of Gorilla Manor. But, after a couple of listens, it’s clear that producer Aaron Dessner’s contribution is quite evident. There is richness in the sound in a way we haven’t heard before. Much like Dessner’s band The National, Hummingbird feels a lot more emotive and dense. For instance; Matt Frazier’s frenzy drumming takes a central spot, utilized in an ampler way compared to Gorilla Manor, noticeably heard on the singles, “Breakers” and “Heavy Feet”. There’s also a clear mood shift, an unmistaken sadness that is washed over every line and every note, not easily manifested on a whole album.
They sound best when they turn up the tempo, like on the previously mentioned singles and on one the album highlights “Wooly Mammoth”. But they also managed to hit gold on the sparse and vulnerable “Colombia”, one of the finest song they’ve ever recorded. The chief criticism to Hummingbird is the fact that they’ve taking too few steps into uncharted territory. They still don’t hold a clear distinguished sound and they haven’t fully mastered the art of writing bigger anthems than their fellow Arena-filling indie rockers. Hummingbird will most certainly not transform them into any major-festival headliners, but they do possess a skill for very solid songwriting that is more than the sum of its influences. Humingbird is a rather firm second effort indeed.