The Naked and Famous - 'Passive Me, Aggressive You'

by - Thursday, October 07, 2010

currently: sleepy, so I'm relaxing.
So my boyfriend gave me a copy of The Naked and Famous debut album, 'Passive Me, Aggressive You which came out maybe a month ago now. I wrote a review for my uni's debate magazine (issue 23) which you can see here, but you can read it below too.

Totally suggest getting at least their singles. Its a great album.

Passive Me, Aggressive You
The first time I heard of The Naked and Famous was around eight months ago. I remember sitting on the couch, flicking through the music channels on Sky. Their music video for Birds came up on Juice TV and I stopped chewing on cornflakes for a moment to watch these images of flowers, silhouettes, and band members being wrapped up in ribbon. I didn’t understand the meaning behind it all, but I remember saying to myself “yeah, this band will never make it mainstream in NZ. Their sound won’t be heard in the top 40 hits”. I should really eat my shoes for saying that, because after the success of their song Young Blood debuting in the number one spot on the New Zealand charts, The Naked and Famous have released their debut to a growing group of followers.

Listening to their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, is like being on a long drive. Not the sort of long drives where you’re frustratingly stuck in city bound traffic at 7.30am, but the drives where it is nearing sunset and you’re speeding out of the city, trying to make your way towards the nearest beach. You have moments in the journey where it is really eventful and exciting, but the slower and softer parts have you in a dream-like hypnotic state, like driving on an empty and open road.

All of This is a really catchy opening to the album. One that draws you in with its head rocking beat and upbeat vocal duet, then ties you down with its bouncy guitar solo. To stop listening at this song gives you the wrong impression that the band is merely a pop sound. As it moves onto Punching in a Dream, more synths come out and Alisa Xayalith’s lead vocals really shine. They scream, they plead, they wail, and they get your attention. This is the same with Young Blood. The song is like an anthem that cries in angst and frustration, and even though the lyrics may not make literal sense instantly, they’re soaked with so much emotion it doesn’t matter.

Many of the other songs on the album continue to have that electronic/alternative feel. The track Eyes feels like a slow and dreamy Ladyhawke track, with an underlying 80s synth vibe, while Frayed has elements that remind me of Radiohead’s In Rainbows album. These different sounds help mix it up a little between the tracks without drawing too much attention away from their sound.

I wouldn’t say this album is flawless however; some songs in the album don’t seem to fit as well as others. A Wolf in Geeks Clothing is a real hit to the senses, like driving into really loud and messy road works at a chaotic intersection. The song’s intro becomes more unnecessary noise than anything else. Whether it is an attempt to make sure the songs are recognised to be individual and unique, this one track just feels really uncomfortable and out of place.

Despite that, Passive Me, Aggressive You is a great debut album. I hope this band doesn’t become another victim of radio overkill, or that Australia claims them as their own. I can tell The Naked and Famous still have a lot to offer to New Zealand music in the future.

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