By Jack Bragg, Courier Editor-in-Chief
Every now and then an indie band will come along and break through to mainstream success. New Zealand Rockers, The Naked and Famous, have done just that with their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You. The album utilizes a fantastic mix of synths, guitars, and eccentric rhythms that bring a unique and accessible feel to every song. All the while the band revolves around a male/female harmony in the vocals that lend an entirely unique sound to the album.
The album was recorded entirely in home studios and a local New Zealand studio called The Lab. The band consists of singers Thorn Powers (who also plays guitar for the group) and Alisa Xayalith (who also plays keys). The electronics are provided by Aaron Short who also produced the album. Drums and bass are covered by Jesse Wood and David Beadle respectively.
The leading track, “All of This” gives the album a good introduction, with a building sound that showcases the band’s male/female vocalist dynamic. “Punching in a Dream” can be heard on many local alternative rock stations and helps to highlight that bands heavy use of electronic sounds to make their music.
The next song, “Frayed” utilizes an interesting, seemingly restrained, rhythm that crashes in to a quick explosion of sound before receding back to it’s original sound. “The Source” is a neat little transition track that melds beautifully into the beginning of the next track “The Sun”, which itself is a slowly building chant-like song that is peppered with interesting little synthesizer licks.
“Eyes” is one of the more standout tracks on the album, expertly melding a sound that sounds fresh and representative of their indie genre, but also carrying with it a feel like an old 80’s dance tune. “Young Blood” is the bands most popular song and biggest single off the album. The song is instantly catchy and it’s very likely that the synth riff will be stuck in your head after listening to it a few times.
The album then fades into “No Way” a beautiful acoustic track featuring Alisa Xayalith’s beautiful solo vocalization. The song then manages to erupt into a clash of guitar and drums and distortion that manage to change the scope of the song without altering its overall feel.
“Spank” is another interesting track that builds into an energetic crash of sound that gives a good representation of the band’s typical sound.
“Jilted Lovers” is another interesting track that uses the bands unique use of electronic sounds to create an almost mystical ethereal sound that is unlike any other song on the album. The next track “A Wolf in Geek’s Clothing” is an entirely different change of pace, alone it consists of heavy distortion and explosive use of the electronic sounds of the band to create the most energetic track on the album, before falling away and building itself back up again. “The Ends” is another song that utilizes the spacy distant feel to give a unique feel to the song, but the true purpose of the song is as a short lead-in to “Girls Like You”, the final track. “Girls Like You” is a wonderful change of pace from the rest of the album.
It features vocalist Thorn Powers in what ends up being probably the most easily approachable song on the album. Overall, Passive Me, Aggressive You is a truly brilliant album that is totally amplified by the fact that it was released and produced entirely independently. It’s nice to see a band like The Naked and Famous achieving mainstream success without the need for a large record label, and this album is truly a testament to the independent mentality.
Passive Me, Aggressive You earns a 5 out of 5.