Local Natives' fifth full-length offering, Time Will Wait For No One, feels equally expansive and intimate at moments, yet always revelatory throughout.
A group of old friends - the kind who met in the lunchroom - lived a dream together. For the better part of a decade, they spent nearly every waking minute with one another making music and canvasing the globe without pause. They reached unprecedented heights buoyed by fan adoration and critical acclaim. At the highest point of their journey thus far, the mettle of their bond would be tested. Forced apart for the first time in as long as they could remember, beset with personal trials and tribulations, and mired in tumultuous mental health, they realized what mattered the most: their brotherhood.
Local Natives always drew strength from the bond between its members - Taylor Rice [vocals, guitar], Kelcey Ayer [vocals, keys], Ryan Hahn [vocals, guitar], Matt Frazier [drums], and Nik Ewing [bass, keys]. This bond inspired their lithe reconstruction of alternative rock laced with sun-soaked sixties-style California harmonies, glistening guitar, and eloquent songcraft. It’s why they’ve quietly generated nearly a billion streams, earned gold certifications, and sold out legendary venues such as the Greek Theatre and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“Basically, we were on the move for 10-plus years as a unit,” says Taylor. “All of a sudden, we stopped being in one another’s orbit for the first time since we were kids. This season was insane and difficult for us as a group and as individuals. We were coming apart at the seams. Time Will Wait For No One is about us finding our way back to each other, restarting the process as new people, and approaching it completely fresh for the first time. It kicked off the most prolific period we’ve had as a band…and we feel like the record is beautiful,” he grins.
It’s always been important to Local Natives. The band have consistently captivated with a series of widely celebrated LPs, including Gorilla Manor , Hummingbird , Sunlit Youth , and Violet Street . Their single “Dark Days” reached gold status, while they delivered standout performances on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in addition to appearing in the Apple Original Series The Shrink Next Door starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell. Beyond packing amphitheaters on their own, they’ve ignited Coachella, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Outside Lands, and more.
In many ways, it would be the band’s hometown of Los Angeles that catalyzed their next era. As 2020 put its strain on the world, the guys managed to congregate safely by writing in Taylor’s backyard following a period of isolation. These organic jam sessions set the tone for what was to come. As ideas formulated, they linked up with producer John Congleton [St. Vincent, Spoon, Clairo] and opted to record in seven trusted Los Angeles recording studios, including Valentine Recording Studio, 64Sound, Nest Recorders, and Sargent Recorders. Marking a turning point, they played their biggest hometown headline date at the Greek in August 2021.
They set the stage for Time Will Wait For No One with “Hourglass,” “Desert Snow,” and “Just Before The Morning.” Tracked live, the 2023 single “NYE” leans into glossy keys and a glittery guitar riff. Meanwhile, its magnetic melodies melt right into hypnotic harmonies on the celebratory chorus, “So what, I never noticed, I was in the moment, I wish that I could stay.”
They notably recorded half of the opener and title track, “Time Will Wait For No One,” outside in an Echo Park backyard with helicopters buzzing over the city. The sound of one guitar careens beneath the three vocalists singing around a lone microphone as the words cut deep, “Time will wait for no one, but I will wait for you.”
“It’s a symbol of the album itself,” Ryan goes on. “It begins with us outside and cuts into the high fidelity of the full band in the studio halfway through. That was our arc too. Originally, the song had a romantic sentiment. Suddenly, it was about everything we’ve gone through apart and as brothers. You can’t control what’s changing around you, but we can make a choice to stick by each other. I got married, a couple of the guys had kids, our lives are different, but we’re still here.”
The LP concludes with the gorgeously somber “Paradise.” Sparse piano rings out beneath emotionally charged vocals and an unexpectedly uplifting crescendo.
“It’s on the heavier side,” Kelcey notes. “The rug is pulled out from under you, and everything is collapsing. You only have your partner to get you through.”
“It’s like an old school Local Natives song,” Taylor says. “We tried to bring it back to a hopeful place on the outro with huge vocals.”
In the end, Local Natives’ bond and music are stronger than ever.