It was easy to miss Local Natives’ Gorilla Manor back in February, what with Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest and Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut still ringing in the air. Vampire Weekend’s Contra had also just dropped, spilling bright pop and multi-culti overtones all over the charts. At first, L.A.’s Local Natives just looked like a West Coast response to others’ great ideas—a sun-baked indie mash-up as potentially unsatisfying as the raw vegan snack that description makes it sound like. But the band’s debut has satiating staying power. The album’s first half is chockfull of lush, tightly arranged earworms. Four singles, to be exact: the autumnal, woozy “Wide Eyes,” the piano-driven yearner “Airplanes,” the urgently spiky “Sun Hands,” and the propulsive, string-laden “Camera Talk.” These songs’ odd reggae breakdowns, beguiling do-do-dos, and constant tribal percussives make for an addictive, rewarding listen. Except for an impressive reinvention of Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign,” the rest of Gorilla Manor takes it a bit easier, but these boys never ramble without reason. Even slower bucolic numbers like “Who Knows Who Cares” demonstrate Local Natives’ knack for crafting emotive moments that never feel bathetic, as well as technically proficient pop that, in spite of initial impressions, never seems studied.
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