“Vogue,” the opener to Local Natives’ fourth album, Violet Street, makes a grand statement. Over twinkling piano keys and dramatic strings, singer Taylor Rice yearns for a deeper connection to God. Then, less than three minutes later, the band transitions into lead single “When Am I Gonna Lose You.” On the surface, this song sounds like a backpedal to the band’s previous effort Sunlit Youth. But, no, it’s much better.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about that album was the L.A. indie outfit’s move toward a sound that could fit on an “alternative” station owned by iHeartRadio. Those concerns are washed away here—Violet Street’ is full with instrumental and genre experimentations while maintaining the band’s knack for harmony vocals and tribal rhythms. “Megaton Mile” makes nods to ’60s and ’70s R&B. “Shy” explodes halfway through with punchy percussions symbolizing the confrontation (and destruction) of toxic masculinity.
Most songs bleed into each other, suggesting an intended cohesiveness. Indeed, the notes Rice hits in “Vogue” foreshadow the hook of “When Am I Gonna Lose You.” All of the songs, in one way or another, deal with the realities of adulthood—exhausting and underwhelming, but occasionally rewarding.
Violet Street contains the most interesting music Local Natives has put out in years. More than one listen is needed—not only to appreciate the instrumental intricacies they’ve laid out, but to admire how their ambition paid off.