NBHAP Rating: 2,8/5
[one_half last=”yes”]ACTIVE CHILD
02. These Arms
03. Never Far Away
06. Midnight Swim
10. Too Late
Those were the days
ACTIVE CHILD is actually one guy originating from New Jersey: Pat Grossi. At a young age he convinced his mother to apply for a renowned choir and soon he was around the world, enchanting the audience with an angelic voice while still loving and singing along to the music of JAMES BROWN and PETER GABRIEL at home. His first own creative steps in music began in college and sounded more like straight-forward singer-songwriter music. But soon he re-discovered his choir voice and modernised it by manipulating and pitching it, sampling guitar and harp tunes and using the laptop to create some kind of bedroom ambient r’n’b. Soon there was his vibrant debut EP Curtis Lane and the 2011 debut album You Are All I See definitely created a sound for itself, being built up by a harp and electronics-based dreampop with those ethereal and heavenly vocals by Grossi.
The new approach of minimalism
First we have to say that Pat Grossi’s trained voice still sounds remarkable. But what happened to the harp here on Mercy after it became kind of a trademark on the last album? Okay, it’s there in a small part of the soft r’n’b hymn These Arms, also in the lovely instrumental interlude Midnight Swim and sometimes used as a rhythm instrument, but it isn’t used as a lead instrument anymore. Most of the melodies here are simple, the samples sparse and definitely lacking the magic that created the enchantingly dense and dark atmosphere of the prior album. There are also tracks on the album that are incredibly boring in its minimalism: the unstructured Stranger with it’s dull house-beat for example. Darling could have been nice with its surprisingly organic attitude of an acoustic guitar flirting with the harp, but in the end it’s just something that almost floats by unnoticed, like many songs on the record.
The thin line between divinity and cheesiness
But it’s not just the music that came out below Grossi’s talent this time. When you sing with falsetto voice about love, you will probably always walk the thin line between divinity and cheesiness. I have no doubt that the lyrics on Mercy rose from serious relationship issues, but when it goes straight to lines like “I think about you all the time, wonder if when you think of me you smile” you can’t help but cringe. It wasn’t much different with the last album, though probably you didn’t realise it that much there, because of the better music and the more mystified and ethereal atmosphere. And then, after 35 minutes of Mercy, you suddenly realize that this album is over. I found myself waiting for something that never came.
With tossing away the more or less ambientish dream-pop sound that made You Are All I See a distinct success in 2011, Pat Grossi now followed the road where the 2013 EP Rapor showed to and drifted into the randomness of contemporary mainstream r’n’b.