If you haven’t figured out Native America’s stance on ambition by the time Grown Up Wrong starts to wind down, they lay it all out on the “everyone else grew up but you” ode to underachievement, “Well Understood”: “You try and try as hard as you/But you’ll never break through to the other side.” Perhaps when your band hails from the Big Easy, the natural instinct is to cultivate an air of effortlessness. New Orleans’s Native America certainly talk a good game. Not only is the first single from Grown Up Wrong a drowsy bit of indie hung on a helium hook and titled “Naturally Lazy”, but even in between the “Bad Reputation”-style shouts of “Dance With Me” they flip over “Don’t cry no more/Don’t cry, baby” to “Don’t try so hard/Don’t try, baby.” Still, when they came through New York for the CMJ Music Marathon in October, the guys played an average of two shows a day, so they’re not exactly lacking in initiative.
Native America’s self-released (and Kickstarter-enabled) debut, Get Well Soon, came out in early 2013, and Grown Up Wrong is their first for Inflated Records, who have also put out records by the likes of Speedy Ortiz and Bass Drum of Death. The shift to label representation hasn’t altered their chemistry too much: the production values are cleaned up, but suitably spare, save for the fuzzed vocal affects, and the neat melodic turns in songs like “Old Friends” and “Like a Dream” will have fans of the first two Shins albums feeling fondly at home. “Naturally Lazy” hews a bit close to the loose-fitting slack guitar vibe of Mac DeMarco, but they only wear it once, and they wear it well. Try as hard as they might to not try, Grown Up Wrong is an easy success.