In the two years that followed the release of Passive Me Aggressive You, The Naked and Famous have been a standard in my routine. Unquestionably, this album helped us survive the move to Seattle, and the subsequent months here. There hasn’t been a week in which I didn’t listen to that album from beginning to end. If nothing else, I was glad that they released a new album to supplement my collection of their music.
In Rolling Waves features a steady pace, marked by grand swells and lush crescendos, fitting to its name. It lacks the bass-heavy rhythms of the prior album, which gave it a modern, new-wave ambiance. Instead, this release relishes more in the subtleties possible in electronic synth-pop. Stand out tracks include the first single, “Hearts like ours,” “I Kill Giants,” and “We are Leaving.” The album’s closing track, “A Small Reunion,” is a sentimental piece, incorporating strings and a somber motif. This track resorts to a number of archetypes, particularly as a final offering, but it does so in a deeply moving fashion, befitting the subject matter.
Admittedly, this album didn’t keep my attention on the first run through. It lacked the dance rhythms and vocal intensity of its predecessor, but it has a lot of heart, and it still has the amazing musical quality that made PMAY a fun listen – it has simply been redirected. The result is an album that is, perhaps, less fun, but more fulfilling. It functions less as an in-ear party, and more of an experience for your whole being. Don’t rush your enjoyment of the album, let it come to you, perhaps in waves of some sort.