About half way through their set frontman Thom Powers of The Naked And Famous, ahem, fame states his wonder at the packed Button Factory that stand before him . “The album isn’t even released yet, and a sold out show…” he cries in what sounds like bewilderment (but given his posturing thus far, could be tres faux). But when your lowly hack puts it through his own processor he can see where the immaculately quiffed young man from New Zeland is coming from – Dublin is a long way from Auckland – it makes one wonder at the glory of the interweb and the opportunities it places in people’s hands and the joy it places in our ears.
For when The Naked And Famous roll out the tunes that have, judging by the reaction, undoubtedly drawn the sold out crowd here – they sound like world beaters. The jangly synth into of ‘Punching In A Dream’ emerges shimmering through the dull, dirge of poor sound that marked their opening tune and lights up the crowd. Cue euphoria and much exaltation of lead singer Alisa Xayalith, whose presence is a sparkling tonic to the moody preening of Powers. However, having achieved this state, the band immediately depart back into the mud of what can only be described as shocking sound quality and into a darker guitar based vibe for a number of songs. Most notable in this section is ‘The Sun’, where Powers’ and Xayalith’s lyrics fold over brooding bass and synth, but unfortunately the intricacies are marred by the poor audio quality.
What makes it all the more confusing is that when they return to that MGMT-esque brand of thumping electro-pop, the speakers again sparkle and the sheer joy of their hook, blips and bleeps, along with the exuberance of Xayalith’s delivery cannot fail but shine through. ‘Girls Like You’ harnesses all of Powers’ grandiose anguished glory and ‘Young Blood’ is a triumph of yearning hopefulness that makes you feel like this might just be a good time to be alive.
There is enough on show tonight to confirm that The Naked And Famous have enormous talent. However, whether the fault of the venue or themselves their set leaves the feeling like half of it through a washing machine. While Powers seems like a man that takes himself extremely seriously, Xayalith’s presence is all sweetness and sass and this review would not be complete without a mention for the band’s electronic sorcerer Aaron Short whose every sonic interjection is bang on the money tonight. If the band can perhaps produce a few more anthemic thumpers to match their darker material, they will have a set to match their promise.
Photo: Ashleigh Tait.