Active Child | You Are All I See
The terms ‘harp’ and ‘synth’ don’t exactly go hand-in-hand – and besides, everybody already knows that trying to do new things with the harp would just be pointless frolicking under the shadow of reigning indie harp queen, Joanna Newsom. However, Active Child’s Pat Grossi makes a pretty compelling argument for his case.
Following his EP ‘Curtis Lane’ released last year, full length album ‘You Are All I See’ crystallizes Grossi’s musical direction. Each of the tracks comprise of soaring falsetto vocals drifting above a mixture of synthesized electronic beats and delicate harp melodies, topped off with some discreet R&B influences. It is evident that Grossi has a very clear idea of what he wants his album to achieve in mind, and he executes this flawlessly, just in the way he intended.
However, music is not meant to be flawless, and the finer points of a melody occur when it is most riotous and emotionally charged. The tracks in his album seem almost too clean, too polished, and thus renders his lyrics of heartbreak and lovelorn unbelievable.
There are however, still certain tracks that stand out more than others. The album opener and title track is an undeniably beautiful one that sounds unlike anything I’ve heard in recent times. Johnny Belinda is one of his more emotional songs, and his voice goes perfectly cast amidst the ethereal soundscape that he’s created for himself. Playing House, featuring fellow lo-fi electronica artist How To Dress Well features a pleasing blend of faultlessly catchy tune and startling synths to balance each other out, resulting in yet another seamlessly executed track.
Yet, at the end of the album, I am not compelled to hit the replay button, nor do I have particularly strong recollections about each of the songs. There is no question that Active Child comes wrapped in a very stylish package, but he seems almost too self-aware, too absorbed in his music, that it is difficult for the listener to empathize and get a true hold of the emotions he’s attempting to convey. This album lacks heart, and that’s where the problem lies. It tries too hard to please everybody and ends up aligning itself with none. While certainly an enjoyable listen, I don’t know when I’ll be in the mood to put on this record again.
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