The Naked and Famous can be seen as being a victim of their own success. ‘Young Blood’ from their first album Passive Me, Aggressive You, had the problem of eclipsing any piece of music on that LP or any other track they have since released. You could easily be forgiven for assuming that Simple Forms is their second studio album, but in fact it is their third after the release of In Rolling Waves in 2013 – which fell into the same bracket as MGMT’s second album Congratulations – better as an album than the first, but with no ‘radio applicable releases’. This album is really make or break.
“This is a band with a banger in their locker, but in constructing a complete album they have let me down again”
Immediately you are thrown into the track, ‘Higher’, with its warped techno pulse running through its heart. It is easy to see why it was launched as the albums lead single back in July. The next song, ‘The Water Beneath You’, demonstrates the power of Alisa Xayalith’s vocals and is another great listen. However, after doing such a good job to pull the listener in with the first two tracks, it wanes over the next six, with Thom Powers rather cheesy sounding voice taking centre stage. This led me to be reminded strangely of Evanescence – remember them? The album does not pick up again until ‘Laid Low’, but all of a sudden it is all over and I was left with a rather unsatisfying taste in my mouth.
Simple Forms is not a bad album, but is that enough for a band trying to revitalise their reputation? This is a band with a banger in their locker, but in constructing a complete album they have let me down again. I cannot help thinking that for a group which wrote one of the greatest songs of my teenage years, what has stopped them from fulfilling their potential?