Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Jon Ashley at Echo Mountain in Asheville, N.C., during MoogFest week Oct. 2011
Depending somewhat on your age, the Naked and Famous tend to grab you by the scruff of your neck and jerk you backwards, into your past, where you're once again confronted with a swirly cocktail of emotions and feelings that you've not had to deal with for quite some time. Those people who don't have this reaction to the band from Aukland, New Zealand, are folks who are so young that it hurts. It hurts because everything that Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith sing about on the band's debut full-length, "Passive Me Aggressive You," hits like a dagger, or a painful Facebook wall post/text message - if we're to be frank about where most of us receive our depressive fodder these days. They spotlight the great anxieties of what it means to be young and in love or young and incapable of finding love. It's mostly those kids who are getting to see what a butcher shop the act and procedure for love is.
These are songs written in full-grown anthem form for the kinds of young people who would have stood in the front yard with a boombox, loudly playing a symbolic song for the girl they wanted. They are songs, however, that aren't super touchy-feely, but more of the way that the emotions get locked up inside and shift around like they're trying to get warm or comfortable. By the time that they're part of you, they've assumed something more like a worn in sentiment, where they seem less fired up, more deflated that they were at the start, but more of an accurate reaction to the tumultuous times they've been going through. They're worn out. They've felt the nights and the skies sweat with nervousness and they feel no closer to getting what they really want.
"Young Blood," a song that found itself in all kinds of places over the last few years, is a perfect example of what The Naked and Famous do best. It reminds us that nights all have conclusions and if anyone's tallying their results at home, there are far fewer that get marked as successes than those that are ultimately great failures. Everyone continues hoping for the score to even out. No one puts on their club clothes thinking that the night and what the heart is seeking is going to wind up as just another one of the dark statistics, but inevitably the odds are stacked like a mother fucker. It's dreaminess and doom doing a little pre-partying or sharing a morning after brunch - voracious appetites, with shades on and a hair of the dog. It's hard to tell which is which.