The Naked and Famous have gone through a downsizing over the years. The band is now a duo, with Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers backing each other up as co-stars working in tandem to produce a dreamy, alt-rock aesthetic. The pair’s dialogue of lyrics ebbs and flows throughout the album in contrasting cadence with their atmospheric backing complimenting the career-spanning partnership.
Their latest album Recover is a stripped-down version compared to their earlier work. There is still a distinct floorboard of synth carrying the album from beginning to end, but on their fourth studio album, The Naked and Famous focus more on the stories behind each song with their lyrics taking a more prominent role. This time around, the electronic synth is more of an accompaniment rather than the focus of their latest work.
The electro-pop distortion helps extend their musical range beyond the guitar and keyboard played by the singing duo. These underlying streaks of synth help distort Thom Powers’ voice, a somber reflector caught in the present trying to build a future from the troubles and regrets of his past, particularly on songs, “Easy” and “Count On You”. Meanwhile, Alisa Xayalith’s vocals soar on, “Everybody Knows” and “Coming Back To Me”, sending each crescendo to the next stratosphere on those long notes.
Recover is a singer-songwriter, alt-pop anthem that is apt for relaxing on a calm summer day. The adolescent audience that heard the bands’ music in the 2010s are now out of their early adulthood dream stage, where an airy chorus underneath a signature beat hooked a following. Thirteen years into their career, The Naked and Famous put their experiences at the forefront of their music as they deal with the grind between quarter and mid-life crises. Overall their latest work is a much calmer tone as the band matures from musings of an ideal future to getting by in the thick of life. Songs primarily deal with messy love, fixating around lovers with baggage that continue to circle around each other, both magnetized and repelled in a perpetual cycle of missed opportunities.
For these stay-at-home times, Recover is great calming energy for a remote day at work or during the many idle hours of isolated leisure during quarantine. It is mostly tranquil with a few upbeat rhythms interspersed to excite the heartrate. The songs are more poetry than banger as The Naked and Famous move past singing about who they want to be and reflect on the grit of who they are today.