Sunday, June 12, 2011

Album Review: The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010)


Not too many New Zealand bands managed to capture the spirit (or zeitgeist) of 2010 quite as readily or easily as the youthful Auckland-based five-piece The Naked and Famous, with the band’s debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You emulating the hit single ‘Young Blood’ by rocketing to the top of the local (NZ) charts.

Combining poppier elements of bands like MGMT and Empire of The Sun, The NaF are all about clever songs and catchy power-pop tunes, with distorted synths and a combination of boy-girl vocals. But it’s also fair to say that a portion of the band’s commercial appeal probably lies with its very polished too-cool-for-school hipster chic.

It would be no exaggeration to suggest that the bulk of those responsible for propelling The NaF to the top of the charts are – much like the band itself – barely out of school uniform. Or at the very least, under the age of 25, and certainly not yet cynical or world-weary enough to start wondering about long term prospects and use-by dates.

And while such pesky trivialities like sustainability and longevity might be worth thinking about when you start to consider just how derivative some of Passive Me, Aggressive You sounds after a couple of listens, for now the band is riding the crest of a very large wave, and I’m definitely not going to be the mean spirited adult who tells them “no you can’t do that” … because they already have, and will doubtlessly do so again whenever they please.

The Naked and Famous make it all seem so carefree and effortless on the glossy Passive Me, Aggressive You that it would be rather churlish not to acknowledge that the album is something close to the perfect embodiment of Alt-pop’s vibrant and increasingly global crossover appeal throughout the 2010 calendar year. This band nail it, and where it goes from here is a discussion best left for another day.

Highlights: ‘All Of This’, ‘Punching In A Dream’, ‘No Way’, ‘Young Blood’, and the closer, ‘Girls Like You’.

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