Published on March 18th, 2011 | by Ben Illsley
The Naked & Famous : ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’
The Naked & Famous
Passive Me, Aggressive You
Close on a year since they topped the NZ charts with synthy, toe-tapping-fist-pumping (don’t worry, it’s not that cheesy) single ‚ÄòYoung Blood‘, it’s hard to say Auckland’s The Naked & Famous have been hasty with their UK breakthrough. At last it seems, debut LP Passive Me, Aggressive You is due its UK release on Monday (March 14th) ‚Äì and it’s fair to say, over-stated support from the NME heaps on just a little pressure.
On a whole though, the Naked and Famous have little to worry about – ‘Passive Me…’ is a sound effort, through and through. More genre-spanning than genre-busting, the record bubbles from sickeningly infectious, electronic likely-to-be (if not already) floor fillers (‚ÄòPunching In A Dream‘), through to heavier-side-of-mild noise psych-pop stompers (‚ÄòSpank‘), occasionally stepping into step beat shoegaze (‚ÄòThe Source‘ and ‚ÄòThe Sun‘). Whether it’s coincidence, or over emphasising variation, or simply being indecisive ‚Äì the result is uncontrollable toe tapping throughout (seriously, I’ve had complaints from downstairs). Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers’ vocals layer together snugly, much like you’d imagine The XX to be, were they formed in the 80s, lead by Cyndi Lauper, and produced by Massive Attack. At times, they’re like a grungier Best Coast, rolling in the same self-indulgent swirls of MGMT or Yeasayer… Seriously, the irritating comparisons are endless.
For this same reason, toe tapping has a dual meaning ‚Äì often here, it’s a symptom of boredom and discontent. Not to say that ‘Passive Me…‘ isn’t interesting… it’s just that, in a time inundated with far better female-led bands, treading the waters of mediocrity simply won’t do. In all truth, If I wanted a mildly electrified, pseudo psych-rock soundscape (‚ÄòA Wolf In Geek’s Clothing‘), I’d go listen to The Joy Formidable. If I wanted some ethereal, skyward dream pop (‚ÄòThe Ends‘), I’d much prefer listening to Braids. If I wanted symbiotic boy-girl vocals, it’d still be The XX. And if I wanted three minutes of scratchy, drowned-in-feedback repetition (‚ÄòJilted Lovers‘), I probably deserve to be shot.
And really, that’s what sums up the record ‚Äì covering a wide area, just quite thinly. It’s a shame really, that however hard they’ve tried, all The Naked & Famous could offer is catchy, festival-friendly tunes ‚Äì the type you’d love while mildly intoxicated, search for as soon as you get home, and then lose interested soon afterwards… and sadly, little more than that.
I’d still pay to go and see it though.
Passive Me, Aggressive You is released in the UK on March 14th.
What’s your view? Let us know in the comments section below…