Local Natives, Time Will Wait For No One Review
By Rudy Palma
As I continue my journey of focusing my attention on the vocal talent displayed on any record. I ventured into the harmonious world of Local Natives’ fifth studio album, Time Will Wait For No One, ready to experience the band’s seminal SoCal harmonies and vocal abilities in their purest form.
Before we delve deeper, it’s essential to understand the powerhouse behind Local Natives. This ensemble is a vibrant tapestry of talents: Taylor Rice’s vocals and deft guitar play have been crucial since 2005, as have the multifaceted contributions of Kelcey Ayer, who spans vocals, keyboards, percussion, and guitar. Equally significant is the addition of Ryan Hahn, another 2005-origin member, who brings in-depth sounds with his guitar, keyboards, and vocals. The rhythm section is fortified by Matt Frazier, whose drumbeats have been the driving force since 2006. Completing this dynamic lineup is Nik Ewing, whose bass lines lend the low-end punch, supplemented by his contributions on keyboards and vocals. Now, let’s delve into the intricacies of their sound and vocals.
If we think of an album as a journey through the artists’ soul, then Time Will Wait For No One is one of transformation, as articulated by the band. Infused with life’s highs and lows, the record is an honest confession of their struggles and the relentless pressure of time. However, amidst this ocean of change, the band’s unique SoCal harmonies remain a constant, a sonic lighthouse guiding their legion of fans.
The album starts on a bold note with Time Will Wait For No One. The opening is raw and real, with footsteps on a rocky path, followed by the strumming of an acoustic guitar. The auditory scene is set, inviting listeners into the intricate labyrinth of their harmonies. Here, the band skillfully controls the balance between distance and resolution, coloring their pop melodies with jazz hues. The layered vocal harmonies are indeed beautiful, creating a cocoon of sound that one can’t help but be drawn into.
However, the journey is not without its bumps. The second track, “Just Before The Morning,” sets a happy tone with its upbeat rhythm, but the usage of low-fi processing that mimics singing through a megaphone is a bit perplexing. These guys are exceptional singers; covering their nuanced performances with excessive effects seems a tad unnecessary and dilutes their organic vocal strengths.
“Empty Mansions,” on the other hand, presents a tasteful blend of well-crafted vocal harmonies and a strong backbeat, slightly rushed in tempo until the chorus, injecting an infectious energy into the track. But the overuse of reverb seems to mask the vocals again, adding a veil that hides the group’s innate vocal virtuosity.
The acoustic strumming opening of “Desert Snow” feels homely and comforting, and the song builds gracefully on finely tuned vocal harmonies. In this case, the instruments appear recessed in the mix, and a more substantial presence of the bass and drum elements could have enhanced the song’s sonic density, thereby contributing to a more harmonically balanced and engaging audio experience.
“Paper Lanterns” offers an intriguing mix of funky reggae-infused beat and unusual melody. The vocal harmonies shine, weaving a rich tapestry of sound, highlighted by a synth sample of a female voice. The dreamy guitar and synth parts nicely complement the vocal harmonies, creating a soundscape that’s both novel and familiar.
Local Natives Time Will Wait For No One shows the band’s commitment to their signature harmonies. However, the application of vocal effects, most notably reverb, might have been more sparingly used. The production could benefit from showcasing the natural, unfiltered voices of the band members, given their exceptional vocal abilities. The album reminds us of the beauty of raw and clear vocals, where every diction, phrasing, and pitch is audible instead of being shrouded in a fog of effects.
My sentiment on Time Will Wait For No One might lean towards neutral, but it is still a commendable effort. After all, as the album’s title suggests, time indeed waits for no one, and music, like life, is about progression and evolution. This album might not be their absolute best, but it certainly adds a new and interesting chapter to their discography.