Review Summary: A solid first album by a band on the up and up
I heard Gorilla Manor blasting from my suitemate's room for weeks before I decided to check it out. Though they don’t have a sound that is unlike many of the other guys making music right now (Fleet Foxes
, Grizzly Bear
, et al), there is a certain beat lying at the back of these tracks that makes Local Natives a lot of fun to listen to.
‘Sun Hands’ is most likely the first track that will grab you and rightfully so. The most distinct song these guys have recorded, this song is a clear standout. Cool percussion backs up some very personal vocals. These guys even rock out a bit towards the end of the song.
'Wide Eyes' is another early standout. The opening track grabs you, as a little guitar riff merge seamlessly with the drum track and Taylor Rice takes over: 'Oh some evil spirit oh some evil this way comes.' Drums, guitar and vocals all have their time in this song and each solo compliments the other parts perfectly. 'Airplanes' and 'World News' help provide an early feel that is shaken off by the mediocre 'Shape Shifter.'
As a result, not enough people even arrive at the incredibly under-appreciated 'Cards & Quarters.' This is a track that starts off slow and never really picks up like other upbeat album tracks, but before letting you go, the song begins to go in two different directions at once, with competing lyrics sounding off in beautiful discord before all vocals stop at a cliffhanging riff. The similarly veined 'Who Knows Who Cares' is another change-up which you can't help but feel sucked into. Though he says 'Who Cares,' you can feel the passion behind his words as strings tug at your heartstrings.
Balancing out the back half of the album are the more upbeat 'Camera Talk' and 'Warning Sign.' The former sets a great pace and has the greatly harmonized and memorable line, "And even though I can't be sure / memory tells me that these times are worth working for." The latter, a Talking Heads
cover, manages to outdo the original, and fits perfectly as an upbeat gem.
But 'Cubism Dream' is its own beast entirely. The band demonstrates an incredible amount of maturity on a first album as it explores the abstract nature of our ideals. Though the final 2 tracks, 'Stranger Things' and 'Sticky Thread,' serve primarily to bring you down and send you on your way, the album has by now taken you on a tribal adventure through the indie-inspired lives of a group of rambunctious 20-somethings, a ride that is so easy to take over and over again.
Despite a significant drop-off to close the front half of the album and a less than perfect ending, this is nonetheless an excellent album. And with the percussion adding just its touch of originality, almost anyone can enjoy it. Whether these guys are simply a one and done effort or if they can actually muster up a bit of momentum behind this first release, I don’t know, but I am eagerly awaiting their sophomore effort.
Cards and Quarters
(This review was edited on Feb 24 so that it wasn't a listed track by track. Track descriptions in this version are nearly the same as in the original review)