Stylistically speaking, there is currently no artist that remotely sounds like Active Child, which is kind of surprising since the New Jersey native (real name Pat Grossi) pays homage to those who ignited his love for music on seemingly every song he’s ever written. But there are certainly others mining the past to mix with the present, like Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr., and How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell. So where is Grossi’s place in the movement? Before his show tonight at Brighton Music Hall, we find out.
Grossi’s debut album “You Are All I See” was greeted with genuine praise and the setting of a high bar. So naturally, the man made the most of being a dream-pop somnambulist: he went on tour with M83 and basked in the glow of the spotlight. Last month, he released “Rapor,“ an EP full of sparse, swirling trills and rising tides of synths. Although some critics felt Grossi’s latest effort is blurring into the background, others stand by it wholeheartedly, impressed with his piercing falsetto and widescreen ambience. But with genre-blending (most notably ’80s synth-pop with ’90s R&B) becoming increasingly prevalent, can Active Child stand the test of time?
Grossi seems to possess the tools to weather the storm of trendiness, even if”Rapor” is slightly disappointing. His unique vocals and languid tunefulness should be front and center, but they become lost in the abrasive production and uneasy sonic textures. And textual exploration is something that Grossi usually excels in, which makes “Rapor” that much more disconcerting. However, his plush, nuanced palette remains intact when he delves into collaborations. Alongside Ellie Goulding, he revels in existential affirmation. With Gilbere Forte, Grossi gracefully dances through the debris of a fallen relationship. As long as he keeps his music focused, the allure of Active Child should continue to captivate listeners.
With others artists riding this wave of musical time travel delivering quippy neo-soul vamps, seductive emotional slights, or funky tempos, each act is consistently putting its stamp on a genre of music that is still taking shape. Active Child didn’t create this movement, but he should be regarded as a pioneer of it — and hopefully one that will continue to make memorable records.