The Naked And Famous – 'In Rolling Waves' album review

After an early peak, the Kiwi group's second record sinks into blandness

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Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5


When The Naked And Famous released their debut album ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’ in 2010, there was a general feeling that (some three years after MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’) they were decidedly late for the ’80s revival party. In fact, they’d just about made it but all five had come in decent but uninspiring Human League costumes. The Kiwi band squeezed out the obligatory quirky and life-affirming soundtrack to a TV ad (for Canon) with their enormously catchy single ‘Young Blood’, and toured the world before settling in Los Angeles to record their second album. It was an unexpectedly brilliant start for the Auckland-based quintet, who had all of the hooks but none of the wit of their many predecessors.

That second album, ‘In Rolling Waves’, has now landed. Each track was recorded without backing tracks with the idea that it could be played the same way live, and this intention is embodied in opening track ‘A Stillness’: a brilliantly hypnotic and stylish song made for the stage or (failing that) massive speakers. Gradually building into a steady rhythm reminiscent of The Stone Roses’ ‘Waterfall’, and with entrancing vocals that emulate Björk’s on ‘Big Time Sensuality’, The Naked And Famous (skipping forward from the ’80s for one track) seem to slip into such a ’90s daze here that you can almost see Bez gurning in the corner of your eye when it plays. The thudding beat and sporadic sweeping electronica make for a wildly euphoric track, which holds huge promise that this album will be considerably better than the first. It’s a promise that is gradually and awkwardly broken throughout ‘In Rolling Waves’.

After that premature peak, the album sinks song-by-song into abysmally po-faced synth-pop: think Hurts on a comedown. Recent single ‘Hearts Like Ours’ is pleasant enough as straight-laced electronica for the masses, but without wit or any ounce of rebellion it reeks of a car advert. With the exception of ‘The Mess’ – arguably the most unlistenable song on the album, a duet that could drown in its own earnestness – the rest of ‘In Rolling Waves’ continues in a similarly bland vein. The title track blasts on with a cringe-inducing, over-epic chorus, and ‘What We Want’ drones on like a boy-band album-filler ballad unconvincingly disguised as something ‘alternative’. ‘I don’t know what I want,’ sing Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith together. We do: not this.


Buy this album here

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Listen to The Naked And Famous on Spotify

Watch The Naked And Famous's 'Hearts Like Ours' video


Users say

4 comments
Naomi Brightwell
Naomi Brightwell

i think this review nailed it, the album was an absolute yawnfest. I think you're missing the point Jon, it IS an album of one-hit pop-wonders that's why its so shite.

jade
jade

This album is painful to listen to, and it may just make my ears bleed. I'm sorry, but the group absolutely killed it with every song on their album "Passive me, aggressive you"- which may just be one of my top 5 favorite albums of all time. "In Rolling Waves" is a sad disappointment, right with Passion Pit's preceding album "Gossamer."

Patrick Blackburn
Patrick Blackburn

Yeah, I'm shocked at this review. I'm not on TimeOut London often, but I'm wondering if maybe the music reviewer had called in sick the day the editor asked Daisy to scrawl out a review. I awarded "In Rolling Waves" with the #1 album of the year at my site: http://controlaltmusic.com/controlaltmusics-20-best-albums-of-2013/ But the beautiful thing about music is that there is something for everyone. And reviewer Jon nailed it with his comments below.

Jon
Jon

Two stars by Timeout - awesome! It was horrible when they got 'discovered' by the main stream for Young Blood and played into oblivion by all the Hiperati. Now back to the underground indie scene where they belong. If all you want are one-hit pop-wonders that fit into whatever the latest 'trend' is then get MGMT to make a dubstep album with auto-tuned Bieber vocals or something.

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