active child curtis lane
    • THURSDAY, JULY 29, 2010

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    Active Child is doing everything right with the Curtis Lane EP, but the boundaries are too well-defined to be excited about. Pat Grossi interviewed with Pitchfork and talked about his time in the Philadelphia Boys Choir and his experience with cassettes... for a young dude he has the right aesthetic and the chops to back it up for sure. But this summer has seen a whole lot of the rinse and repeat of his ambient vocals and simple arrangements, a technique that is starting to feel like old hat instead of crazy new style. This EP is more about potential than anything worth gushing over, but that future is still worth discussing.

    Active Child is a funny name for something so passive in it's repetition, but I dig that. Curtis Lane is more like a cul-de-sac of droning, with more chill than a cooler full of frosty, snooze-inducing beers. Initially delicious and refreshing, later we're reminded that we've been drinking this stuff for years and it still tastes the same, except now we can't drink it fast enough to get drunk before we fall asleep. Active Child has the right idea to be hip: take a bunch of tasteful synth riffs and slap some hollow vocals and stock phrases on it, and call it chicken. But everything tastes like chicken these days. Chill-wave, whatever that may mean to you, doesn't mean anything to me other than "someone thinks this is cool and washed out". It's becoming a template for getting a mention on a notable publication, and that is usually a signal of the bubble bursting. That's the bad news.

    The good news is a lot of this shows serious potential for adventure. Active Child has a knack for high-pitched accents on the melody (see the end of "Weight Of The World" and the gripping choral bits of "I'm In Your Church At Night"). Grossi can do interesting things, especially with sounds that melt together what everyone considers super-hip with what others might accuse of being an Enya cover. Sh*t like that iis as funny as it is engaging, and a hell of a lot more interesting that straight up chillwave mirroring. Which begs the question of why most of the record falls flat in the chordal movement department... he is no dummy, but he plays one sometimes, and those are the scenes that keep putting me to sleep.-joe puglisi

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