In Rolling Waves
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2013 album from the New Zealand Alt-Rock quintet. Beyond a life hard-wired to Pop culture via the 24 hour news feed, The Naked And Famous elicit a romantic connection inspired by the golden era of Alternative Rock; a shared response to a teenage soundtrack of epic, emotionally charged mid-'90s music. By June 2012, the New Zealand quintet had played to more than 600,000 people in 24 countries, but the band chose to hit pause and embark on a second album. The resulting album, In Rolling Waves, delivers darkly nuanced, intricately rocking electro gems once again born in bedroom studio sessions, then demoed in studios in Wales and Australia ahead of recording at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. Thom Powers sought out Alan Moulder (NIN, Foals, My Bloody Valentine) to mix this daydreaming dark-wave experiment. In 2013, The Naked And Famous are matured and determined to deliver new music to their fans as soon as possible.
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This album starts off with a bang-- "A Stillness", "Hearts Like Ours", and "Rolling Waves" are three of the best tracks off the album. Album opener, "A Stillness" also shows the broader musical range of the band on this album with it's acoustic guitar driven edge. "Waltz" has a classy duet of Thom's and Alisa's vocals floating over each others which creates something really special (this layering appears on a couple different songs actually). "The Mess" and "I Kill Giants" are both solid hits for me as well. Not spectacular, but consistently enjoyable and will be go to songs as they can fit many different moods. "A Small Reunion" is a beautiful epic close with the appearance of a building vibrant strings section that just makes so much sense paired with TNAF's signature synth/drum/guitar sound.
In fact, I wish they would have played around more with the strings on several latter middle half songs like "We Are Leaving", "Grow Old", "Golden Girl" and "What We Want." They have great ends but tepid and rather boring beginnings. The addition of some interesting instruments on the first halves of these songs could have really saved them. It's not that I insist all TNAF songs be upbeat--but to have several in a row with the same song structure (minimal and quiet for about 2-3 minutes, then get aggressive), it just takes away the drama of the songs. It let's them bleed together which is just as bad on an album as it is when your clothes in the washing machine all come out hot pink. Also, I felt that nothing even the singles on the album reached the same heights of "Punching in a Dream" from their debut.
That said--we're just a few months short of the end of the year here, and this is definitely one of the pop standouts for me. MGMT and Grouplove both have albums dropping today too, and I have to think this was somewhat of an intentional thing as these bands often get compared. In that tossup--hands down, it's TNAF. This album is just more cohesive with better hooks as well as an increasing depth of lyrics and atmosphere which I think really makes them stand out. Final round win for the Kiwis and here's hoping to even better progression and song structures on their next venture!
For fans of bands like CHVRCHES, M83, and Passion Pit.
I have been listening to In Rolling Waves on Spotify for a few days because I'm starting a new book and I'm looking for a playlist to listen to as I write. But I seriously had In rolling Waves on repeat for the entire day and last night I just need to own it. :) It's been on repeat all morning now, too. I don't even know if I can choose a favorite - I think The Mess, but honestly, I love them all. Awesome artistic growth from The Naked and the Famous. Love, love, love it. Sad, desperate, emotional, real.
On July 23rd of 2013, The Naked and Famous announced that their 2nd album, In Rolling Waves, would be released.
Cut ahead: It's October 17th. I've purchased the album. I'm sitting down at my computer. I'm opening iTunes. I'm listening. Allow me to say first, Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith (bandleaders) did not disappoint. Immediately I noticed, though, that there was a different feel to In Rolling Waves than PMAY: a more sober, mature sound - a sleek and polished sound that maintains the excellent blend of synths and guitars that the last album had. It was different, yet definitely their own sound, if not personifying them more so.
The opening track, "A Stillness", might remain my favorite track on the whole album with simple yet magnificent lyrics, amazing vocals, and a talentedly woven blend of acoustic guitar and synth. But the album goes on to awe the listener further in the wonderful soundscape experience: from the nostalgic sounds of "Hearts Like Ours" to the majestic catchiness of "Waltz", through the haunting and lovely "Golden Girl", and more, concluding with an epic and bittersweet track: "A Small Reunion."
There is, however, a small flaw: while both the opening four tracks and the closing three tracks brilliantly showcase the band's radiant talents the center of In Rolling Waves seems to undertake a redundant pattern of slower tempos and similar vocals. This can be easily dismissed however as even these songs seem to be gems unto themselves, engaging in a calmer and more pensive experience.