The phrase we would use to describe Active Child's debut, You Are All I See is "pleasantly unexpected." Though the album shows some qualities that might mellow the minds, we couldn't help but fight the numbing feeling in order to pick apart the dense, compositional nature of the band's semblance of sounds. Sure, one might feel compelled to sit back and sink into their seat, but there's more to be gained through active engagement. Think of it as an exploration of the band's depth while fighting the instinctual swim up to the surface. And as our most recent concert capture clearly demonstrates, its a journey in any setting.
In performance, Active Child is as unique as they come, with lush beds of synths, otherworldly electronics, and divine runs of harp laying the groundwork for singer Pat Grossi's smooth, strangely operatic falsetto. Songs like "High Priestess", "Hanging On", and "Playing House" appropriately lift off from minimalist origins, eventually blossoming into monstrosities of sound before settling back down again. The audience is hanging on every note, inhaling elements of R&B, 80s pop music, and the outskirts of indie rock along the way.
What you gonna do when you get back home? Get a job? Pull your weight now? What you gonna do when she sees through your eyes? And through your lies? Can you tell me? What you gonna do when she calls your name? Oh, priestess, can you help me? What you gonna do when you get outta jail? Oh, priestess, can you save me? Listen to my prayer Listen to my... What you gonna do when you get back home? From a slow, long journey Priestess sitting up on a golden throne She says no You better get what you came for And listen to yourself Listen to myself Oooh, oooh, oooh Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oooh Oooh, oooh, oooh Climb down from your window Tonight we lie as one No sleep till tomorrow The blinds will hide us from the sun Ooh, below the sheets we meet Ooh, nobody knows where we will be Shield your sword From all of those unknown Ooh, protect as if you're in a fire amongst the flames As they whip and try to burn you I'll let you know that I know That you're in a fire I'll let you know that I know That you're in a fire Ooh, oh, oh, oh Ooh, ooh, oh, oh Oh, oh, oh You know we can't get away Because I'm calling your name Every day I feel this pain But you just turn and walk away I just can't keep hanging on To you and me I just don't know what is wrong With you and me Touch me and then turn away Put your hands into the flame Tell me if you feel this pain 'cause I don't want to be your Ball and chain I just can't keep hanging on To you and me I just don't know what is wrong With you and me With you and me Oh, oh, oh, oh, me Oh, oh, oh, oh I just can't keep hanging on To you and... I just don't know what is wrong Oh, oh, oh, oh, ooh I just can't keep hanging on To you and... I just don't know what is wrong Oh, ah, ooh Oh, oh, oh Oh, oh, ooh Ooh, ooh, oh, ooh Oh, oh, oh, oh - Thank you. You give us love. We'll give you love back. In the morning Just a little bit ago You lie asleep In our bed All twisted in your clothes And the rain came down On our rooftop With a rhythm like this Let the hair stand up On my shoulders When you open your mouth Say aah, ah, ah, ah, ah Ooh, oh, oh, ooh Aah, ah, ah, ah, aah Ooh, oh, oh, ooh So I wrote you a letter Etched into my forearm With the pen that you gave me Because if there's one thing That I mustn't face This is permanent This is permanent Wish that I was strong enough Wish that I could give it all up Wish that I could change enough To be yours Wish that I could give it all Wish that I was strong enough Wish that I could change enough To be yours Wish that I was strong enough Wish that I could give it all Wish that I could change enough To be yours Wish that I could give it all Wish that I could change enough Wish that I was strong enough To be yours I woke up early in the morning And you weren't there I woke up early in the morning And I could have been anywhere But I know exactly where I am Somewhere between making love And being friends I tried to call you in the evening But you didn't pick up Something about being busy Hustling just trying to make a buck But I know that's just the way you are Just trying to forget But this ain't no ordinary love When your love is safe I'll be shedding it all away When your hope is gone I'll be up till dawn Something that I want to tell you That I'll never say Sorry that I ever told you All those things I didn't mean inside my head But you know that's just the way I am Just trying to forget but this ain't no ordinary love When your love is safe I'll be shedding it all away When your hope is gone I'll be up till dawn When your love is gone Shedding it all away When your love is gone Giving it all away This is getting tough, Sitting here, waiting for you And I think you've had enough because I know that it's hard This is going on Going on for way too long I think you wanna know I just can't wait Ooh, I'm trying to find you, Ooh, I'm trying to reach you, girl I don't even know just what I want Ooh, I'm trying to find you Ooh, I'm trying to reach you, girl I don't even know just what I want Maybe we're just playing house, Just because it feels good Baby, we're just playing house, Just because it feels good That don't make it good for anybody Don't wanna be in love just with anybody I'm tired of being just Mr. Anybody So baby come with me And let's just make a body Between us, I need you to see me Girl, I've been waiting Please tell me you need it If you call, I will always be there Ooh, I'm trying to find you Ooh, I'm trying to reach you, girl I don't even know just what I want Ooh, I'm trying to find you Ooh, I'm trying to reach you, girl I don't even know just what I want Maybe we're just playing house Just 'cause it feels good Just 'cause it feels so good It feels so good - Thank you. Climb the fence In through the side door Past the sarcophagi Laid down on the dirt floor There we were holding hands Singing through the hole in the ceiling Into the heavens I'm in your church at night Singing hallelujah At the top of my lungs No one spoke as our voices rose Stars were shining and so were our souls But now it's just memory Burnt in my brain The power that we felt that night Will never be explained I'm in your church at night Singing hallelujah At the top of my lungs Hallelujah, I'm in your church at night Singing hallelujah At the top of my lungs - Thank you guys so much. Have a great night. Be safe.
For Pat Grossi of Active Child, the last two years have been nothing short of enriching. Musically, Pat has worked within and appropriated a number of styles into his sound, from his early days singing with that heavenly voice as a choir boy to his more recent forays into laptop-assisted indie-pop made in his bedroom, best exemplified on 2010's acclaimed Curtis Lane EP. His sound is so wide-ranging that he has found himself touring with many notable acts of differing genres, including dubstep producer James Blake, dreamy synth-pop of School of Seven Bells, and the indie-rock bands White Lies and White Rabbits.
Nothing quite prepares you for the leap that Pat has taken with his debut album, You Are All I See, out on August 23rd via Vagrant records. Recently, he has expanded his sonic ambitions and turned the studio into an instrument for a record that sounds cosmically huge and yet intimate all the same.
Of the album title, Pat himself says, "You Are All I See is an attempt to build a bridge between the listener and I, in that, I wrote these songs for you as much as I did for me. And right now when you are listening to my voice, by yourself, it really is just you and I." In attempting to craft songs that meant something not only to himself but that could be meaningful to others as well, he found himself working with some universally human and fragile themes. "The songs focus primarily on the joy and heartbreak of relationships, love lost and rediscovered, battles with monogamy, battles with identity," Pat says. "It came out much darker than I had intended, but sometimes you only have so much control."
The grand, cinematic scope of Pat's artistic vision is apparent on You Are All I See, which owes as much to his wide array of influences as it does to Pat's own knack for employing these influences in fresh, forward-thinking ways. With triumphant synths and shimmering, contrapuntal harp lines, songs like the title track and "Hanging On" are reminiscent of Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack," but improve upon that template with layered vocals not far removed from Bon Iver or even James Blake, who Active Child recently opened for on tour. "High Priestess" and "See Thru Eyes" are stunning forays into electronic music territory, littered with samples, drum machines, and keyboards that propel the songs forward while simultaneously seeming weightless and suspended. It is in this tension that You Are All I See lives, breathes, and thrives so magnificently. The album is indebted to the sounds of the 1980s, from New Order's drums-and-synths to danceable hip-hop beats, and it's all topped off with soaring r&b melodies. The album's first single, "Playing House," features guest vocals from Tom Krell, the crooner of lo-fi r&b project How To Dress Well. Pitchfork Media recently premiered the track, noting "Active Child's sound now seems positively ahead of its time."
Reflecting on the album's finished product, Pat says "I think more than anything, I see this debut release as a bridge towards something bigger and truer. Something I can look back on and think, 'damn, you really did it'." When you finally hear You Are All I See you'll think the very same thing.