Release Date: Apr 26, 2019
Record label: Loma Vista
With their fourth album, 2019's effusive Violet Street, Local Natives strike a pleasing balance between the promise of their kinetic debut and the atmospheric explorations of their subsequent follow-ups. Produced by longtime studio associate Shawn Everett, who has also contributed to albums by Weezer, Lucius, and the War on Drugs, among others, Violet Street is a strong album that feels more connected to 2009's Gorilla Manor than either 2013's Hummingbird or 2016's synthy Sunlit Youth. Still showcasing the yearning, falsetto-rich vocals of Taylor Rice, along with keyboardist/vocalist Kelcey Ayer, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Hahn, drummer/vocalist Matt Frazier, and bassist/vocalist Nik Ewing, Local Natives have grown into an ensemble that favors nuanced melodies and a textural group aesthetic over slick, commercially driven hits.
A full ten years on from their debut, Local Natives have never been shy of committing to a theme. If 'Hummingbird' was a dedication to loss and 'Sunlit Youth' a mediation on politics, then 'Violet Street' is an album about heart, albeit one battling with the mind's tendency to wonder exactly when things are all going to go wrong. 'When Will I Lose You' is the centrepiece, a remarkably poppy and hummable number for a lyric so embedded in fear, but then, that has always been Local Natives' best talent - setting harsh realities against lush melodies, recognising ruin but enjoying the good nonetheless.
Local Natives epitomized L.A. indie with the airy harmonies, hirsute style, and earnest ambition of their lovably scrappy debut, 2010's Gorilla Manor. As the decade comes to a close, they still do. A collaboration with the director Van Alpert and visual artist Public-Library on the video for the Shawn Everett-produced single "Café Amarillo" puts Local Natives just one degree of separation from Post Malone, Drake, Kacey Musgraves, and Nike, rather than Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes.