Review: Passive Me, Aggressive You By The Naked And Famous

Hype is a tricky thing. Not enough of it, and nobody knows you exist. Too much of it, and everybody wishes you didn't. The Naked And Famous have been the recipients of a large amount of hype over the past few months. Released back in September, Passive Me, Aggressive You debuted at number one in the band's home country of New Zealand. The album's first single, "Young Blood," won New Zealand's Single Scroll Award. The band was also nominated for the BBC's Sounds Of 2011 poll and followed that up by winning the Philip Hall Radar Award at the Shockwaves NME Awards last month. But for The Naked And Famous, the hype has been legitimate: they really are worthy of all the praise being heaped upon them.

Passive Me, Aggressive You is a rich, layered affair full of hooks and synths, walls of sounds that don't sound overproduced like a lot of synth-heavy bands. Alternating between the somber vocal stylings of Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, whose vocal urgency sounds like she might explode if she doesn't get the words out, the band is at its strongest when Xayalith takes the mic. While co-lead vocalist Thom Powers has a fine voice, Xayalith's is so unique, it's almost a crime not to use it any chance you can. The only time Powers leaves his near-whisper behind and shows any desperation in his voice is in the album's closer, "Girls Like You," which also turns out to one of the album's strongest tracks.

While their detractors tend to write them off as MGMT knockoffs due to hits "Young Blood" and "Punching In A Dream," The Naked And Famous wear their influences on their sleeves, as is evident with the Nine Inch Nailsish piano-driven interlude of "The Source" and the bombastic breaks in "Frayed" (both songs' names even sound like they could be NIN songs). The '80s come shining through in a lot of their songs, especially "All Of This" and "Eyes," but nothing tops the of quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamic of the disc's best track, "No Way."

In this era of a la carte music, it's rare to find an album, much less a debut album, so solid from start to finish. The only misfire on the disc is "A Wolf In Geek's Clothing," which sounds out of place with Passive Me, Aggressive You's dozen other tracks due to its loud industrial stomp that owes more to Nirvana than Nine Inch Nails.

Passive Me, Aggressive You is an excellent debut from The Naked And Famous. Based on the strength of this album, I belive we'll be enjoying them for years to come.

Verdict: Get it now.

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