Rolling Stone album reviews, December 2010: The Naked and Famous, Fuzz Phantoms

Two albums reviews for the January 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.


The Naked and Famous
Passive Me, Aggressive You
Somewhat Damaged/Universal

New Zealand punks bring the dance-noize to new audience

Owing to their fascination with Loveless-like walls of guitars and the synth-led electro-pop of Passion Pit and MGMT (circa Oracular Spectacular), this N.Z. five-piece have a foot planted firmly in both past and present. Their debut album bristles with nervous energy, like they’re itching to impress. And they do. Central to Passive Me, Aggressive You’s success is the skill with which their two main reference points are balanced: “Frayed” paints a mood of dark, distorted menace, yet it follows the album’s most optimistic jam (“Punching In A Dream”). In “Young Blood”, though, the band has conjured up one of 2010’s best singles. Alisa Xayalith delivers its self-aware opening line (“We’re only young and naïve still”) amid a storm of skittering synths and a hefty bass swoon. It’s a monster track masterfully handled, yet there’s the unshakeable sense that their best is still yet to come. Despite pursuing two disparate musical styles, The Naked and Famous embrace both, and thrive.

Key tracks: “Young Blood”, “Punching In A Dream”, “Frayed”

Elsewhere: An interview with singer/guitarist/producer Thom Powers for The Vine


Fuzz Phantoms
Fuzz Phantoms

Kisschasy frontman’s garage rock side-project unveiled at last

Best known as the lead singer and songwriter of pop band Kisschasy, Darren Cordeux has left his bandmates behind – for the time being – in favour of pairing up with his partner Tahlia Shaw under the Fuzz Phantoms moniker. Funded by 50 individual backers via online platform Kickstarter, this debut is a 12-track, 28-minute collection that flits between power pop and garage rock. Shaw is no gun on the kit, but her loose style is nicely juxtaposed by Cordeux’s considerable chops: his occasional flights of six-string fancy (best exemplified in “Met A Youngster”) are tasteful and impressive. Fans of Cordeux’s past work will find much to like here. The singer seems to have found solace in simplicity: stripped back to basics, Fuzz Phantoms sounds like two musicians (and their bassist pal) enjoying themselves. They’re unlikely to set the world alight with this release alone, but for the moment, the pair seem content – and rightfully so.

Key tracks: “No Crime”, “Nowhere”, “Met A Youngster”

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