Reviewed on Tuesday May 13 (photo by Ashley Mar)
There’s almost definitely something in New Zealand’s water. Since their 2011 debut LP Passive Me, Aggressive You plunged a silver fern stake into the international music scene, The Naked And Famous have seen their tracks bounding through television shows and films, from Degrassi to Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and even the Kony 2012 doco. Pushing its own enticing brand of pop-rock noir, the five-piece has the Metro packed out long before taking the stage.
Vancouver Sleep Clinic is 17-year-old Tim Bettinson, and with a moniker sounding like a track on Bon Iver’s self-titled 2011 holy-grail-of-folk album, VSC’s sonic similarity comes almost naturally. The young Aussie’s glassy falsetto dances over churning electronic laps of sound, punctured by ratatat drums and smooth keys melodies. His almost indiscernible lyrics do little to appease the restless crowd, though, which almost throws him off with its nonchalant chatter.
TNAF launch into their set with the playful aggression that defines their earlier releases, as female lead Alisa Xayalith’s voice pierces through the sleek synth with pitch-perfect gusto. Swaying her platinum blonde pixie cut, Xayalith motions her kimono-style sleeves around, instinctively dictating the melody to a crowd that soon turns into a choir. Syncopated rhythms fill the room and belligerent riffs add shade to the light ambience, with other-vocal-half Thom Powers’ contrasting tone serving as a refreshing balance. Crushing the one-hit-wonder curse, tracks from new album In Rolling Waves have the crowd enraptured, ‘Hearts Like Ours’ already a standout sing-along. Sandwiched in between the band’s mini-anthems are some more melancholic musings like ‘I Kill Giants’.
The band says it recorded its new album with the intention of translating it seamlessly to a live show setting – a feature that shines through. Alongside, the light display is nothing short of spectacular, soaring with choruses and transforming the band into silhouette. It’s another element in the atmospherics, adding that extra glow to big hits like ‘Punching In A Dream’. Inviting but never too forceful or full on, TNAF are masters of their craft, and more than likely the next NZ talent we’ll claim for ourselves.