Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured, selected by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Breakers” by Local Natives from the 2013 album Hummingbird on Frenchkiss Records.
Formed in 2008 by UCLA grads Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice, Local Natives’ ornate blend of ’00s indie rock and beach-ready harmonies is as ebullient as it is propulsive. The trio were joined by bassist Andy Hamm and drummer Matt Frazier in a Los Angeles house where they recorded their debut, Gorilla Manor, before launching an extensive tour that went well into 2011. Before production began on Hummingbird, the band’s sophomore effort, Hamm left the band, and the remaining four members went through a series of personal ordeals before entering the studio with The National’s Aaron Dessner. The end result is a darker and more vulnerable, but no less beautiful, album than Gorilla Manor that improves on its predecessor in nearly every way. (Read our review of Hummingbird here.) Opening with “Lit Up“-esque guitar strums and tumbling drums, “Breakers” borrows the brooding insistence of their producer’s main gig and outfits it with a harrowing, harmonious fury that rises and falls like the tide at the beach on a cold morning. Alternating between a rushing chorus and delicate, haunting verses, “Breakers” shows off all of Local Natives’ best qualities: tight instrumental interplay, soaring harmonies, intimate lyrics - while moving the band into new, heavier territory. “Breakers” is as much of a reintroduction as it is a evolution; it’s the sound of a band losing their youthful naivety through personal loss, slowly recovering, and subsequently maturing, all in four minutes.
Local Natives will play two shows at the Neptune on Friday, April 26th, and Monday, April 29th, as part of the tour behind Hummingbird. The Friday show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the Monday show here. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook for any future tour dates, and watch the band’s video for “Breakers” now: