The Naked and Famous

By his own admission, Thom Powers, guitarist/vocalist in the Naked and Famous, has been part of several "terrible, terrible bands." By the time he helped to form the fresh-faced five-piece who have effectively become New Zealand's great white indie-rock hope in 2007, Powers's tastes had changed considerably. After leaving high school, Powers says, he grew interested in "alternative music and new artists," listing playful New Zealand power-poppers the Mint Chicks and TV on the Radio's Young Liars EP as major points of inspiration. Passive Me, Aggressive You, the Naked and Famous's debut full-length, came out in New Zealand in September 2010 and in the States this past March. As you'd guess, the album contains no hints of metal or hard rock; in fact, Powers's current act drifts between indie-rock and electro-pop. Passive Me is a grab bag of musical concepts: Synths build bouncy dance-floor melodies and go scratchy and angry; clipped beats mingle with a solemn piano; guitars revel in earthy, wide-open choruses. Powers shares vocal duties with Alisa Xayalith, creating malleable he/she, low/high dynamics. At this stage in the Naked and Famous's career, not having a particularly original or solid identity isn't so bad. Passive Me, Aggressive You is very much the product of a band in flux, with much of the appeal coming from guessing which ideas they will cling to and take forward.

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