Local Natives dive into the deep end of the melancholy pool with Hummingbird, the band’s sophomore release. The album was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, who is no stranger to dark arrangements. While the influence of Dessner is clear, Local Natives deliver a more focused and cohesive effort than 2010’s top-heavy Gorilla Manor. Hummingbird is an absolute triumph is every aspect. “Colombia” is a standout within an album that lacks filler.
The track was written by lead singer Kelcey Ayers shortly after the passing of his mother. Ayers’ lyrics are delivered with breathtaking honesty and introspection. Even after 100 listens, the song continues to stop me in my tracks.
The day after I had counted down all of your breaths down until | There were none, were none, were none, were none; A hummingbird crashed right in front of me and I understood all you did for us. You gave, and gave, and gave, and gave. Patricia, every night I ask myself Am I giving enough? Am I?
The band balances accessible hooks with inspired lyrics and harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. The comparisons to both bands are fair. Album opener “You and I” definitely gives off a Yellow House-era Grizzly Bear vibe. Additional comparisons to The Antlers are also acceptable. In the past few weeks of on-repeat listening, several acquaintances have mistook Kelcey Ayers crooning on “Three Months” for The Antler’s Peter Silberman on Hospice (see “Epilogue”). I’d consider that massive praise but would even dare to call Hummingbird a more complete album than Hospice, widely consider a masterpiece of melancholy. Blasphemy? Maybe.
Watch the video for “Breakers” and stream the entire album on Spotify below: