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Passive Me Aggressive You ()

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Listening to the Naked and Famous' guttingly good 2011 full-length debut, Passive Me Aggressive You, one thing is clear: this band loves a hot chorus. More often than not on the New Zealand indie electronic ensemble's album, songs like the immediately addictive leadoff cut, "All of This," seem to be building to their catchy and cathartic pinnacle as soon as they start. Every fuzzed-out synth, distorted drumbeat, and slow-zipper guitar line seems to foretell of an impending dance-rock orgy of melody. This, all before you even get to the vocalists, with Alisa Xayalith's yearning and Thom Powers' exuberant croons. Sharing lead duties on and off as well as lending harmonies to each other, Xayalith and Powers alternately ground and elevate such towering anthems as the brutally infectious "Punching in a Dream" and the layered and shimmering "Young Blood." This is '80s post-punk-influenced rock that never sounds too indebted to any of its obvious touchstones. In fact, you'd have to add caveats and descriptors to any comparison: i.e., "They sound like an overdriven Tears for Fears," "An engorged OMD," or "Human League as blasted through the blown-out speakers of a giant boombox." Which isn't to say the Naked and Famous sound lo-fi, although there is some of that sound here, too. On the contrary, tracks like "Eyes" are positively grainy with emotion, while simultaneously appearing glossy, like neon-colored pop spaceships that zap you with precise, heartbeat rhythms and draw you in with tractor beams of melody. By the time you get to the ascendant album closer, "Girls Like You," with its angsty repeated line "Don't you know people write songs about girls like you?," it's almost as if the Naked and Famous are talking about themselves as much as addressing the listener. And in that sense, there's nothing passive about how much you could aggressively love this band. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi Hide synopsis

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