Review Summary: In Rolling Changes
New Zealand five piece The Naked and Famous have come a long way in 4 years. After the critically successful release of 2010 debut, Passive Me, Aggressive You
, the band toured the world for over 2 years gaining a large following world wide and selling over half a million records. The success was mainly due to Passive Me…
’s infectious and hook filled pop that was similar to the MGMT’s and Passion Pit’s musical tendencies of the time, but the band have insisted that they wish to head in a direction where they can play all elements of their music live, without the need of pre-recorded samples and In Rolling Waves
is the outcome of this experiment. Delving into more melancholy sound-scapes, haunting yet calming song structures, guitar based structure and vast electronic horizons -- changing the bands musical direction completely. In Rolling Waves
is the complete contrast of Passive Me…
, instead of summer day dreaming, In Rolling Waves
gives you the sense of placing another log on the fire and enjoying the sound of rain land on the tin roof.
First single, ‘Hearts Like Ours’, is not too dissimilar to the sound that was found on Passive Me…
with melodic highs, and hook based choruses, though the hints at the underlying direction that the band has taken are obvious, appearing more simple with a less frenetic frequency and pace. Xayalith’s vocals are the main contributor here, with her hazy yet resonant tones being a key feature as just before though the more darkened instrumentation here provides a stark contrast to her distinctly vibrant voice in this more methodical approach to song writing, with guitar and pulsating drums being the feature, rather than synth based melodies. ‘Rolling Waves’ is the highlight track, with the band endeavouring at echoed dissonant post-rock, with clever ebbs and flows that give of the movement of ocean sounds and unhurried melodies that weave in and out of the musical interplay. While In Rolling Waves
aims to be staunchly cohesive in sound, there is an eclectic collection of genres flowing through the album. ‘I Kill Giants’ garners a rash attempt at the retro 80’s sound, while album opener ‘A Stillness’ is an interesting mix of vivacious synths, displaced vocals and strange production, in an attempt to be creatively different. While not all the bands experimentation is successful, gentle folk/electro crossover ‘What We Want’ is warming, with solemn piano drifting in the distance and plaintive harmonies, you will find yourself in the middle of a blissful scene of melodies congealed by Powers and Xayalith, dreaming of those summer nights that never seemed to end.
The Naked and Famous’ second album is completely about the dire need to progress, to keep current with the changing nature of today’s music scene. In Rolling Waves
does this well to a certain degree, with calming instrumentation, and haunting lyrical themes, though in sections it tries much too hard to be more than it should be – challenging the background of where it came from, and ultimately failing. Though amidst the rubble there is definitely more buoyancy to be found than trash, giving a fresh perspective and a sound that is unique and ultimately progressing towards something much bigger.