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Album Review
Gorilla Manor

Gorilla Manor
by Local Natives

Label
Frenchkiss
Rating

Review Date
2nd March 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

As a reviewer it’s necessary to point out who or what a band sounds like in order to give people an idea of whether or not they will like them based on their other tastes. Often, the lines get blurred and the focus becomes more about who they are imitating rather than aligning themselves with. Gorilla Manor, the debut album from Los Angeles band Local Natives, has suffered many a comparison. But it is of the utmost importance to highlight that as far as Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear are concerned, Local Natives is a band like those bands, rather than a band that sounds like them.

The difference? Well, for starters Local Natives aren’t young upstarts who decided to become musicians on a whim. They’ve played together for years and are likely to have been influenced over time by the same things that the bands mentioned above have been. It’s a classic scenario whereby a sound will emerge and become popular which leads to people scrambling around to find the next bloggable band. While they may not have been known as Local Natives until they began recording Gorilla Manor (before that they were Cavil at Rest), it was only a matter of time until they would be discovered and favourably associated with the most talked about bands of recent years.

As far as Local Natives being praiseworthy is concerned, the writing is on the wall. Everything about Gorilla Manor is so accomplished and fully formed that it doesn’t suffer from the uncertainty that plague some debuts. Local Natives have found their voice and know how to employ it to best effect. Opener ‘Wide Eyes’ is auspicious in its fusion of the elements that give the album its edge; reverberating guitars, lush harmonies and the kind of frenetic drumming that sees the sticks spend as much time on the rims as the skins.

For the majority of the album this template remains largely unchallenged, only not in a way that makes it repetitive. Second song ‘Airplanes’ adds a recurring orchestral element and single ‘Sun Hands’ halts proceedings to include a melodious shouting match between the band, but all the while things stay within a controlled, interesting and largely striking framework. Post ‘Camera Talk’ (and excluding an inspired and unrecognisable cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’ and the triumphant crescendo of ‘Who Knows Who Cares’) the tempo slows somewhat, even incorporating elements of soul on ‘Cubism Dream’. While it may be the weakest song on the album, it’s only because the attempted left turn doesn’t reach the formidable standards set by the rest of their material.

When Gorilla Manor concludes, the mood of the album is somewhat, if not markedly different from when it began, mostly because of the reduction in pace. The result is twofold; firstly making you wish there was more and secondly, once you realise there isn’t, you press play again. It’s a clever trick and emphasises another similarity between them and their alumni; Gorilla Manor is addictively listenable and endlessly enjoyable.






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