Jaws of Love. is Local Natives’ lead singer Kelcey Ayer’s latest endeavor, and fans of his previous work will find plenty to relish on Tasha Sits Close to the Piano. Ayer developed the project shortly after Local Natives wrapped up recording their third outing Sunlit Youth, from the beginning Jaws of Love.’s aim was to create emotive, piano driven songs that wouldn’t quite fit the current Local Natives mold.
Following the release of Sunlit Youth, many fans were disappointed at the lack of the slower, darker songs that were littered on their well received sophomore effort Hummingbird. The fans who fell in love with Hummingbird can rejoice, as Tasha Sits Close to the Piano delivers the melancholy introspective cuts they were craving in spades.
At surface level the star of Jaws of Love. is Ayer’s deliberate vocal performance which dips and soars through the whole record. We’ve seen Ayer grow as vocalist over the course of his three records with Local Natives, but we haven’t seen him flex his vocal muscle like this before. The evolution of his performance is best displayed on the tracks “Jaws of Love.” and “Lake Tahoe.” the latter is easily the stand out track on Tasha Sits Close to the Piano in my opinion.
After a few listens, it becomes clear that it’s not Ayer, but rather Combat!’s deliberate synth programming that sets Tasha Sits Close to the Piano apart from it’s contemporaries. Tracks like “Microwaves” and “Before the Hurting Lands.” wouldn’t be the same without Combat!’s maelstrom of electronic production, bringing layers upon layers of additional sound to assist Ayer’s deadly vocals and piano.
Examining the lyrical content of the album, Ayer has clearly intended that Tasha Sits Close to the Piano serve as an examination of both the exhilarating joys and the daunting trials of matrimony. After all, it was his spouse who coined the record after the family dog’s preferred sleeping spot. It would be a stretch to call the songwriting on the record mature; in fact it’s probably the most simplistic lyrical content Ayer has released during his career. Nonetheless Ayer has crafted some tracks that are easy to swoon along to, and will be stuck in your head for weeks to come.
The group’s debut album is an outstanding intimate collection of soft rock love tunes that will satiate not only Local Natives fans, but also hungry followers of artists like City and Colour and Bon Iver. Tasha Sits Close to the Piano is an early Christmas present for fans of soft indie rock, and is poised to be one of this year’s hidden gems.