Synth pop rock band The Naked and Famous are celebrating their ten-year anniversary and debuting their new album Recover in the process. The band lost three of its band members, Jesse Wood, David Beadle and Aaron Short, last year due to mutual circumstances. That left founding members Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers at the helm of the New Zealand pop band. “We do have a back-up band. We have a fantastic new drummer. We have longtime collaborator, Luna Shadows, who is playing keys for us. It wasn’t about finding replacements as it was finding new members. As far as roles in the group, all the writing is done by Alisa and me. I think the band’s functions was to produce the songs. We know what it’s like to play live after years of playing in the group. It was a more personal change. Our friends from New Zealand who came to live with us in the States during our formative years and now them leaving is a big, empty feeling. Artistically, we are not doing anything different,” Powers says of the amicable split.
Looking back on their ten-year career, the band crafted some irresistible indie pop gems. “Young Blood”, “I Kill Giants”, and “Higher” are some examples. Their debut album 2010’s Passive Me, Aggressive You, found the indie electronic band build massive underground buzz and appeal. Although their sound never crested on pop radio, they have a massive following. “I think the band’s buzz has died down a bit. There’s a different grief when a situation changes or run its course. We are still very lucky to be in a group. It’s interesting to see what other bands from our era are doing. It’s difficult thing to maintain. Everyone and everything has a shelf life,” states Powers. “Novelty is what means more in the music industry right now.”
Amidst the health crisis that is COVID-19, major album releases have been pushed back to later dates and postponed when we need music to get us through in this time of need. Lead singer Xayalith agreed during these uncertain times. “It has impacted the whole music industry. It’s hard to get a gauge what is going to be effective in terms of content. If we release new music now, will it be received or digested the same way is the question that arises. There’s a decline in streaming. It’s a weird time because no one really knows how to navigate through this. We had meetings if we should push back our new album Recover, that is due out in May. We need to keep the wheels moving without completely stopping. We had some shows in the books as well.”
The album’s lead single “Sunseeker”, though, is a comforting, bright song that evokes emotion that illustrates that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Xayalith states the song was a part of the writing sessions that they had a breakthrough with. “It felt like one of those perfect writing sessions. I was standing in the doorway, and I looked at Ginger, my dog, and how I called her little sunseeker. That word just stuck out to me. We just asked each other what a sunseeker meant to each of us. One who is seeking sun or warmth. I never grew up with a pet growing up until I had Ginger and can’t imagine what life was like before that. The song is about having the warmth and happiness. I didn’t have those things in my life in a really long time.”
The album not only touches about warmth, but death as well. “You always have moments and milestones in your life that you’ll wish you have the person you would share it with who are no longer here. By the end of the day, you have the power to get through that darkness,” states Xayalith somberly.
Recover is tentatively due out July 24th.
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photos / courtesy of the artist
story / Robert Frezza