From the opening chords of “Wide Eyes,” the lead track off Local Natives’ breakthrough debut, one gets the sense they’ve hit the proverbial jackpot. Against a building wall of percussion work, these L.A. rockers lay down some of this year’s prettiest, most expectant vocal harmonies, ooh-ing and ahh-ing all the way to the song’s melodically cacophonous finish. From there, the curiously titled Gorilla Manor only gets better. Pianos and dual drum parts dance in and out of the mix, which highlights five-part vocal hooks and hopeful, building song structures. It’s the kind of music that begs to be sung, even screamed, along to. And live, it somehow manages to exceed all its recording-based expectations.
This Monday, Club Mercy brings Local Natives to SOhO for their first S.B. performance since Manor’s much-buzzed-about release. And based on the hype alone, we’re betting it to be a night for the record books.
“We’ve always kind of written with the live show in mind,” explained guitarist/vocalist Taylor Rice recently from a tour stop in New York City. “We definitely didn’t indulge in a billion parts. We really spent a lot of time writing the record and performing it in a performance space and a lot less time in the actual recording booth. That’s definitely something that we’d like to indulge in on the second record.”
Yet rather than create expectations about Manor’s follow-up, Rice’s sentiments send us back to the source. With an emphasis on performance, the Natives have crafted a debut that’s not only catchy, but startling in its simplicity. The harmonies call out to that other indie behemoth, Fleet Foxes, but in place of delicate lyrical waxings, we get foot-stomping, hear-pounding pop anthems.
“It’s definitely exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Rice says of Manor. “We all try to keep pretty humble around here, but everyone’s really happy.” Needless to say, it’s a swell well worth riding for awhile, both for the listener and for these still-burgeoning songsmiths.
Local Natives play SOhO (1221 State St.) Monday, September 20, at 8 p.m. with openers The Union Line. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.