They’re in your church at night.
In 2010, Active Child (“parented” by leader Pat Grossi) released a truly winsome EP called Curtis Lane. The EP boasted gorgeous melodies, mellifluous harp-playing, and unorthodox arrangements, all produced in a manner worthy of both “modern” and “timeless” adjec-tags. Merely a year later, Grossi has instigated a whole new, fresh set of stunning tunes, easily fit to be hailed as one of the year’s best.
You Are All I See, the band’s first full-length album, is comprised of ten beautiful, evocative, charming, and innovative tunes. The album’s title-track opener elegantly sets the soundscape of the album, launching airy synth particles into the corners of an imaginary cathedral– The snowflake-like harp strands are their accomplices, and they flutter down in colorful tranquility. “All good things in time..” Grossi and his angelic clone patiently sigh… “I know we’ll be fine…”
Lead single “Hanging On” arrives next, immediately erupting into dark, synth arpeggios, held hostage by startling vocal jolts; a dimly-lit cave with unsettling echoes. The alarming reverberations quickly evolve into intricate harmonies, blurring the line between melody and harmony— The bass rumbles cautiously, heralding the arrival of the commanding percussion programming. “You know we can get away / Because I’m ca-ah-aa-AUL…ling your name,” our narrator proclaims.
And while the “stylistically-implemented” auto-tune on “Playing House (featuring How to Dress Well)” is atrocious on Grossi’s magnificently well-trained pipes, none of the other tracks include such a blemish and are just as well-written and appropriately arranged as “You Are All I See” and “Hanging On.”
“High Priestess” and “Way Too Fast” come to mind as additional highlights— The first exemplifies Grossi’s “evocative” characteristic with great passion (stinging synth pads, sorrowful melodies, weeping vocal accessories, etc.), while the latter emphasizes the “innovative” nature of Grossi’s high-caliber material (ambient soundscape and percussion, unconventional vocal harmonies throughout).
Even the instrumental “Ivy” piece illustrates solid musicianship and songwriting ability. The progressive nature of such a tune as “Ivy” would typically allow for excessive repetition, but Grossi’s creativity boldly balances melodic familiarity with sonic adventurism, and the result is an arresting success.
You Are All I See is not only Active Child’s best release to date, but one of 2011’s landmark records. If Vagrant put out records like this on a weekly (or even monthly) basis, I would be a devoted fanboy.
90.5% / A- ☆