Local Natives – Gorilla Manor – Review

Local Natives – Gorilla Manor Review

7.5/10

Gorilla Manor was released in February 2010 on Frenchkiss Records in the US.  It is Los Angeles’ Local Natives first album.  It was produced by Raymond Richards and the band themselves.  The album was named after the band’s house in Orange County.

As debut albums go, this set of tunes is nothing to pout about.  If nothing else, Gorilla Manor is tight as a drum. The band members know how to play together, and it certainly shows.  The tracks are lush and colorful, with a lot to hear, and it’s all right there for the hearing.  By that I mean you don’t have to slap on a 200 dollar pair of headphones to hear everything they want you to hear, all the while not being sparse or too simple.

The vocal harmonies on Gorilla Manor are the best I’ve heard since Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut LP.  If you’ve heard that gem, you know that’s saying a hell of a lot.  (If you haven’t heard it, please just go ahead and hear it.  Right now!  Run!)  These harmonies are made up of some stunningly emotional lyrics.  On “Airplanes”, words to a mother who has, as it seems, passed away when the subject was a young boy “It sounds like we would have had a great deal to say to each other/I’d bet when I leave my body for the sky the wait will be worth it.”  The beauty of the vocals and lyrics is accompanied by striking string arrangements, stellar percussion, and a kick-ass album cover.

One of my few gripes on this album is the brilliant selection of a cover in “Warning Sign” by the Talking Heads.  I was thrilled to hear it, but the execution was somewhat disappointing.  Though there were pretty interesting vocal adjustments, not much was changed musically.  You might as well have taken Jerry Harrison’s guitar track from the original cut and used it directly in the cover.  I like to hear artists take more liberties with their covers, a la Joe Cocker’s “A Little Help From My Friends”, or any Joe Cocker cover for that matter.

That set aside, I can’t wait to hear what Local Natives have to offer in the future.  Gorilla Manor is a firm foundation that is begging to be built upon.  Their future is a skyscraper I’m sure.

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