“In Rolling Waves” Naked and Famous
Sophomore album from the alternative rock-electro-pop band from New Zealand, which calls L.A. home now. The band toured for two years and was reportedly seen by 600,000 people in two dozen countries. It took a good bit of the past year off to work on In Rolling Waves, which is darker and has a harder edge than the band’s first full album. But overall, the Naked and Famous has grown in a promising direction and there are a number of excellent tracks among the set of 12 on the CD.
Recommended: 1, 2, 5, 10, 8, 12. FCC on Track 6!
1. (5:22) A Stillness — Strummy acoustic guitar over swelling synth strings, with an off-kilter beat and jarring synth attacks. Builds to banging ending. Raspy trail-out at end. ****
2. (4:32) Hearts Like Ours — Electro-rock anthem showcases Alisa Xayalith’s soaring lead vocals and rich harmonies with Thom Powers. ****
3. (5:12) Waltz — Dubstep-influenced rhythm with noisy synths and moaning tones overlaid with urgent vocals including strong Xayalith/Powers duets.
4. (3:39) Rolling Waves — Exquisitely produced power pop-rock with soaring, trance-like vocals accompanied by waves of synths building to a wall of sound.
5. (4:06) The Mess — You’re in the middle of a couple’s argument over a failing relationship. Vibrating synths roar as the emotions grow. “How does it feel to be on the fault line?” ***
6. (6:36) Grow Old — Warning: FCC. Plodding pace. Reflective lyrics. Distorted male vocals. Shimmery, distant female vocal responses. Clashing middle. Quiet desperate ending. FCC (“f-cked it up”)
7. (2:12) Golden Girl — Slow-tempo, fragile interlude. Highly processed and reverbed female vocals.
8. (4:12) I Kill Giants — Pulsating, buzzy synths and chattering electronic drum track, building to rock choruses. Lyrics describe Xayalith’s reaction to her mother’s death from cancer. “Nothing but ashes in the old fireplace/With all the memories he has erased.” ***
9. (4:19) What We Want — Strummy acoustic guitar. Sweet harmonies drift on the breeze over an electronic drum ticking off the passing hours and days as a couple mulls what to do about a “trivial,” physical relationship.
10. (4:39) We Are Leaving — Another haunting track about failed relationships. Rain-like synths with stuttering beats and machine gun drums. ***
11. (5:03) To Move with Purpose — Floating synths and precise harmonies. The tempo increases and moves with a purpose (pun intended) toward the end.
12. (5:45) A Small Reunion — A sparkling closing duet between Xayalith and Powers. Strumming guitar and genuine or synth strings. Uplifting lyrics. Builds to a fully orchestrated ending. **