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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Local Natives – “Violet Street”

By: Kirstin Bews




Local Natives are back with their new album, Violet Street, which is set for release on April 26th via Loma Vista. This album has been long anticipated by fans who have been waiting for this follow up since their 2016 album, Sunlit Youth. Produced by Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Kacey Musgraves), Violet Street benefits from the producer’s breezy Californian sound – if you wrote sunsets and waves onto sheet music, the end product would be Violet Street.

Opening with a heavenly flourish of vocals, piano, and guitar, “Vogue”, is encompassed by a violin solo by Arcade Fire’s Sarah Nuefeld. Nuefeld’s solo brings a delicate nuance to the song inspired by the human desire to feel a spiritual connection. 

With as varied musical influences as The Talking Heads and Motown on the doomsday ballad “Megaton Mile”, and Daft Punk and The Beach Boys on “Garden of Elysian”, Violet Street is full of deeply thought out lyrical discussion and musical composition.

Vocalist, Taylor Rice, got married last year and the song “When Am I Gonna Lose You” is inspired by his fears and anxiety in the middle of his relationship. The music video showcases this anxiety with a female muse, portrayed by actress, Kate Mara. The camera mirrors Rice’s perspective as it follows the woman while she walks around a supermarket, drinks champagne by the fire and sits in a living room space. There’s an illuminated truck sign that drives in front of her as she walks down a dark street lit up with the words “when am I gonna lose you”. When the song ends the sign flashes to say “turn around”, which she does, to smile straight at the camera, it dispels the anxiety and fear of the song.

Inspired by Queen, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” feel of “Munich II” is layered with five-note vocal harmony. The track is a small section (45 seconds) of a longer track, with the working title “Munich”, that is eight minutes worth of instrumentation based on a riff Ryan Hahn (guitar, keyboards, vocals) created in Mexico. Everett had the band jam in five different musical styles, of which he stitched together a score for the opening scene of the film Drive. While an experimental recording process, the band wanted to use this piece as an interlude that acts as a jumping off point to finish and release the original “Munich”. 

Violet Streetis capped off by “Tap Dancer”. In 2017 Kelcey Ayer (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitar) and Taylor were filming with Viceland for the series Earthworks, and they wanted to play something around the campfire for the cameras that night. Ayer had worked on this song with acoustic guitars, and for the album recording, he and Taylor sing together throughout the song to re-create the moment by the campfire. Written about reminiscing about a simpler time that you didn’t realize you wanted until it was over, “Tap Dancer” is about becoming grateful for the memory. A poignant, yet beautiful ending to an album like Violet Street.

Treat yourself to an audible trip to the balmy West Coast by seeing Local Natives showcase Violet Street on their upcoming North American tour including a stop at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre on May 27th.


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