Active Child, You Are All I See

Ian Cohen

By Ian Cohen

on 08.23.11 in Reviews
Hot-blooded and deceptively hooky

It’s not surprising that towering redhead Pat Grossi finds most of his inspiration as Active Child from minimalist, production-leading R&B — after all, choirboys who play the harp don’t really have a whole lot of strong role models in indie rock. But while peers like Autre Ne Veut and How To Dress Well fascinatingly warp and desexualize the form while drawing from memory, You Are All I See is hot-blooded and deceptively hooky in spite of its pillowy textures, retaining a visceral effect even with absolutely no tie to anything one might consider rock music. As showcases for Grossi’s forceful falsetto, singles “Hanging On” and “Playing House” (featuring a nervy guest vocal from HTDW’s Tom Krell) hit with such melodic clarity that they occasionally feel like they’re propping up the rest of You Are All I See. But while more low-key, their surroundings ingratiate in a manner that takes after its main instrument, ethereal but hardly weightless. “High Priestess” and “Way Too Fast” in particular tether themselves to Grossi’s accusatory lyrics, weaving through spindly harp plucks, synthesized strings and an eerie gloss that recalls both the R&B and corporate rock of the ’80s without leaning on it for cheap reference — something like M83‘s insular, depressive younger brother, then.