Although recorded in late 2008, Gorilla Manor wasn’t released until 14 months later, allowing Local Natives the chance to build a strong blog buzz before their debut hit American shores. The delay wasn’t entirely beneficial, however, as Gorilla Manor sounds quite similar to a number of albums that flourished in the interim. Local Natives’ sunny harmonies call to mind Fleet Foxes’ debut and Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, while the band’s polyphonic hand percussion -- which, at its most frenzied, is almost tribal sounding -- evokes memories of Yeasayer’s All Hour Cymbals. For all its familiarity, though, Local Natives’ first album is still an enjoyable piece of work, filled with enough pop melodies and multi-cultural quirks to make the year-long holdup fairly worthwhile. The band pitches itself somewhere between the post-punk camp and Afro-beat village, with the musicians often yelping their verses in multi-part harmony before barreling into Technicolor choruses. Matt Frazier’s percussion is sharp, crisp, and always in the foreground, often assuming as much importance as the vocals themselves, while the album’s production -- courtesy of the bandmates themselves, along with fellow Silver Lake resident Raymond Richards -- stretches a layer of pan-ethnic atmosphere over all 12 tracks, a move that bridges any gaps in the young group's songwriting. Local Natives may have arrived several months late for their own party, but Gorilla Manor is a refreshing example of good quality trumping bad timing.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey