Album Review: The Naked and Famous – “Passive You Aggressive Me”

The pathway to success has been a relatively uncharted one for New Zealand based five-piece The Naked and Famous. After recording two EPs in the home studio of vocalists Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, the band returned to that same studio, with few expectations, to record their debut LP.

Lead single “All of This” failed to impact but then, a funny thing happened; the album’s second single, “Young Blood” shot to the top of the New Zealand pop charts. Suddenly, an indie band from Auckland was getting more spins than Katy Perry and B.o.B, and soon thereafter pivotal blogs in the U.S. and U.K. were lauding the group. So, by the time Passive You Aggressive Me was released in overseas, The Naked and Famous had been named the “Best up-and-coming band” by NME Magazine.

Consumed in a vacuum, “All of This” and “Young Blood” would suggest a debut album much different than the one they’re actually featured on. Powers, who co-produced the album with band-mate Aaron Short, has a clear affinity for the 1980’s Shoegaze Movement and the more recent Nu Gaze Movement. As such, he and Short provide a glossy sheen of synthesizers and distorted vocals that make for a wonder-wall of sound on both of the Passive You Aggressive Mes singles. However, the album, as a whole, is far more eclectic in its offerings.

“No Way” starts simple enough with Xavalith’s fragile vocal over an acoustic guitar, but subsequently grows into a boisterous number filled with tambourines, echo effects and heavy percussion.  While “Spank” is an outright dance track in the mold of LCD Soundsystem’s more commercial work, and softer cuts like “Frayed” and “Girls Like You” show true versatility. The Naked and Famous may not reinvent the wheel on their debut album, but they most certainly make it turn.

Overall: B+

NYC Weekend Show Roundup!

Earl Greyhound, Cavalier Rose, Knights on Earth @ Bowery Ballroom
The Naked and Famous, Savoir Adore @ Brooklyn Bowl
Amazing Baby, Acrylics, Teen, Psychic @ Cameo Gallery
Kittens Ablaze, Team B, Baby Alpaca @ Glasslands
Greg Laswell, Harper Blynn (formerly Pete and J) @ Highline Ballroom
Wakey! Wakey!, Jenny Owen Youngs @ Maxwell’s
Tall Tall Trees, Great Elk @ Mercury Lounge
Lee Fields & The Expressions, Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Roadside Graves, Motel Motel, Dinosaur Feathers, Ivana XL, Teletextile @ Pianos
Peelander Z, Starscream, Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re @ Santos Party House
Paul and the Patients, Zoos Of Berlin, Life Size Maps, Sports, The Sanctuaries @ Spike Hill
The Frames @ Terminal 5
Bardo Pond, Pontiak, Crazy Dreams Band, Bad Dream, Silver Summit @ The Bell House
La Strada, Hospitality, Birdlips @ The Rock Shop
Black Dice, Blues Control, McDonalds (mbrs of Oxford Collapse), Avey Tare (DJ set) @ The Schoolhouse
Kate Nash @ The Wellmont Theatre

Javelin, Future Islands, Lonnie Walker @ 285 Kent Avenue
Delorean, Lemonade, Light Pollution @ Bowery Ballroom
Young Prisms, Weekend, MINKS, Big Troubles @ Glasslands