Album Review

You Are All I See

You Are All I See

by Active Child


SPUNK
7.5 / 10
20th September 2011

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell


While Active Child (Government Name: Pat Grossi) was growing up in New Jersey, his father worked for Priority Records. Ahead of the curve, Priority Records released a lot of early West Coast Gangster rap from the likes of Eazy-E and N.W.A. As a result, just before he hit high school, his family relocated to Los Angeles and Grossi, probably by this stage a gangly ginger haired teen, had an Access-All-Areas pass when it came to dirty rap music.

Despite these circumstances, You Are All I See, Grossi's debut album under the Active Child moniker, is far removed from the low-slung, trunk tested rap music he grew up around. What he does seem to have transferred over however, is the theatrical sense of melodrama which joins the dots between WWF style hip-hop beefs and seminal soap operas such as Days of Our Lives and The Bold and The Beautiful.

And again, as opposed to utilising gravelly voiced verses, or overly dramatic theatre style acting, Grossi conveys his melodrama through harp, keyboards, laptop production, an imperially toned falsetto voice and romantic (in terms of both romance and 18th century romanticism) lyrical content. Working with these base building blocks, Grossi sculpts a buoyant ten song cycle. You Are All I See is an exercise in music so ethereal that it feels like a balloon floating away in the wind, yet remains tethered directly into the here and now by a profound emotional weight.

There are a lot of touchstones you can make here: New Wave, Modern R&B and Post-Dubstep even. During his childhood, Grossi was a choir boy, and as songs like 'Shield and Sword', 'You Are All I See' and 'High Priestess' inherently display, there is a churchical rooting which cannot be ignored here. At the same time, numbers like stargazing internet hit 'Hanging On' could easily sit comfortably alongside the works of modern electronic songwriters like Jamie Woon, James Blake and The Weeknd.

For me personally though, where Grossi really goes in is 'Playing House' a duet with low-key bedroom RnB superstar How To Dress Well (Government Name: Tom Krell). Very much a traditional love duet, Grossi and Krell deliver their parts from the same perspective, a dude feeling neglected by his girl, and as Krell sings "tired of being just Mr. Anybody". The twist however is the way the their parts are activated with a stylistic treatment normally associated with female singers; leading to a song both sonically pleasing and culturally subversive.

While You Are All I See is Grossi's debut album, it isn't his first Active Child release. That honour goes to 2010's Curtis Lane EP. Curtis Lane received a genuine degree of acclaim from fans and critics alike, but on You Are All I See, Grossi smashes it out of the ballpark. Grossi reportedly once summed up You Are All I See with the thought, "[It's] something I can look back on and think, ‘damn, you really did it’.” I couldn't agree with his sentiment more.






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