Active Child, Curtis Lane
A mystic falsetto vocal swirling, dazed, above warm, creamy synths
It's fitting that one of the first words Pat Grossi sings on his debut EP as Active Child (disregarding a small batch cassette-only release last year) is "Hallelujah." Curtis Lane is the sound of choirboy gone electropop — a mystic falsetto vocal swirling, dazed, above warm, creamy synths.
It's no wonder: Rossi did, in fact, sing with a boys' choir for the bulk of his childhood, and it's clear that the intervening years have done nothing to his range. Grossi's voice is stratospheric, billowing eerily, a translucent blue ghost in a midnight graveyard. Despite the electronic backdrop, make no mistake: This isn't dance music; the fastest song here, the booming "Weight of the World," barely gets up to resting heart rate. What Grossi does best is raw ache: Most of the songs on Curtis Lane are about either loss or loneliness and the kind of terrible nostalgia those feelings can generate. Stellar first single "She Was a Vision" finds Grossi coming home "to an empty house" and endlessly replaying in his head the breakup that left it that way. His cottony soprano is the perfect conduit for this kind of vulnerability, sounding desperate, resigned and pleading all at once (Though depending on how you interpret the title, "I'm In Your Church At Night" is either reverent — think a supplicant pilgrim — or creepy — think Varg Vikernes.)
Much of Curtis Lane is set in the midnight hours. The low, eerie "Take Shelter" pits Grossi's airy wail over sub-bass synth blurts, as he guides the listener slowly "south through the city, avoiding all the passing cars." The EP glides to its conclusion with the chilling "Wilderness," where Grossi moans — perhaps from beyond the grave – "It's so cold, but you know we belong here," over eerie aurora borealis instrumentation. Curtis Lane sounds like nothing so much as the last cries of the dispossessed.