[sic] Magazine

The Naked And Famous – In Rolling Waves

Firstly, let me get this out of the way – The Naked And Famous have not broken new ground on album number #2, but neither have they moved into “difficult second album” territory, “experimental album” or “completely f ked it up” mode. In fact, In Rolling Waves could almost have been recorded at the same time as their debut Passive Me Aggressive You , released 3 years ago, as it contains many of the same characteristics. I loved their debut, it took the best of the Eighties as a template, chewed it up and carved it into something both contemporary and exciting. Singles ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching In A Dream’ were (and still are!) on regular rotation on my CD player.

It’s fair to say that the first time I heard ‘Young Blood’, it screamed ‘F k You!!’. It was exciting, energetic – and importantly – thrilling. The same is true of much of the rest of the first album, to be honest. As their sophomore release lands in my CD player, it’s fair to say that it has a lot to live up to and hopes are certainly high.

In a nutshell, it’s difficult to describe the content of their new album as ‘thrilling’ or ‘energetic’. The band describes the album as ‘darker’ – it’s darker for sure, but not in a ‘moody’ or ‘mature’ way…

I’m somehow struggling to see In Rolling Waves having the same strong impact as its predecessor, but it would also be unfair to describe it as a bad album, it’s simply that they set such a high target for themselves with their debut. By comparison, the tracks on the new album are less direct, less immediate, but after several listens there are several standout tracks including ‘Hearts Like Ours’, title track ‘Rolling Waves’ and ‘I Kill Giants’. In between, however, ‘The Mess’ is a not-really-as-good version of ‘Girls Like You’ and the too-long-by-a-stretch ‘Grow Old’ causes the album to dip heavily in the middle (with vocal effects which borrow heavily from Laurie Anderson ‘s ‘O Superman’). ‘Golden Girl’ continues the dip with a track which doesn’t appear to actually go anywhere.

The second half of the album suffers with slow tempos and basic chord structures. Dare I say it, but during ‘What We Want’ and ‘We Are Leaving’ I can imagine a live audience chatting somewhat louder than the band. ‘To Move With Progress’ fares better, though it comes a little late in the proceedings.

The overall mantra might be ‘more of the same – but without the hits’ – and fans of the band will find several diamonds in the rough – but I fear that The Naked And Famous may have played their second album too safe. I would have liked to see them take a few more risks and throw in a few curveballs rather than playing the songs which their fans are possibly expecting to hear.