Album review: The Naked and Famous, In Rolling Waves

By Scott Kara

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The Naked and Famous have a Mumford & Sons' moment on the opening track of their second album. Admittedly, the acoustic folk flourishes of A Stillness are slightly mangled and warped in typically TNAF fashion.

But there's definitely a touch of the Mumford to it. Then the song takes off into a slamming, stomping electronic squall which is more like what you expect to hear from the sonic synth-pop rock five-piece.

Still, A Stillness is a sign this album is different from their debut, 2010's excellent Passive Me, Aggressive You.

Of course, one of the challenges facing the Los Angeles-based Auckland band was writing a tune to match Young Blood, a song that was No 1 in New Zealand, a hit in the US, and a big reason why they are currently living their dream of touring the world playing music.

In Rolling Waves' first single, Hearts Like Ours, gives it a good shot with its throbbing synth and rousing sing-along lines. And there are plenty more effortless anthems here too, like I Kill Giants, an 80s-tinged spectral pop gem, and the Fleetwood Mac-meets-folkie electronica of What We Want.

In Rolling Waves may not have as much of the raw and youthful enthusiasm of their debut, but they sound more self-assured and daring. A track like The Mess is a stroppy boy-girl duet with the vocal sparring driving the song along, and Waltz is an exotic song that pings and pops along.

The album also doesn't have the immediate appeal of their debut, because the dynamic shifts and truly anthemic moments are more subtle. And they show their smouldering side on the gently escalating (and eventually exploding) Grow Old and beautiful album closer, A Small Reunion, which brims with strings.

If anything, it needs a few more tracks with the intensity and pulse rate of To Move With Purpose because when it starts to peak out, and the smoke machine is on overdrive, that's when TNAF are at their best.

Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: A different and worthy follow-up to their pioneering debut
Click here to buy In Rolling Waves.

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