Release Date: Jun 16, 2015
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Ambient Pop
It’s been four years since Active Child’s Pat Grossi released his full-length debut, You Are All I See, an album that gave peeks into Grossi’s brilliance through seamless integration of electronics with his choral vocal skills and multi-instrumental offerings. In those four years, Grossi has clearly been hard at work on a follow-up that’s as unrelentingly innovative as his last, and Mercy is solid evidence of that. Throughout Mercy, Grossi traverses the lands of electronic, R&B, soul, gospel and more.
The second studio long player from golden-throated, ambient-R&B maestro Pat Grossi, aka Active Child, the Vagrant-issued Mercy is a dewy-eyed collection of late-night/early morning neo-soul ballads and chamber music-infused gospel-dream pop reveries that are as delicately breathtaking as they are torpor inducing. Invoking names like James Blake, Purity Ring, Sohn, and Antony & the Johnsons, and recorded in Brooklyn with pastoral precision by Van Rivers (Blonde Redhead, Fever Ray), the ten-track set feels longer than its 36-minute runtime, but that has little to do with the quality of the material. Grossi's angelic tenor (he did time in the esteemed Philadelphia Boys Choir), unabashedly sincere and heartfelt lyrics, and deft, yet understated harp and piano playing, pair well with Rivers' expansive, sometimes glitch-heavy beats and house flourishes, lending an air of refinement to some of the album's more propulsive moments.
You have to feel for Pat Grossi, AKA Active Child – he’s stuck in a bit of a bind. His debut EPs (Curtis Lane and Sun Rooms, 2010) and his first longplayer (You Are All I See, 2011) generated an avalanche of support from both lowly bloggers and high-profile musicians, including collaborations with How To Dress Well and Ellie Goulding (who even covered his “Hanging On” on Halcyon). Now he has to follow that.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. When I first heard Autre Ne Veut's Anxiety, I was floored by the incredible amount of detail in opener 'Play by Play'. I'm still waiting for the day when that track is considered a club staple. Sadly, the rest of the record only scratched the surface of this bombast.
There's an unmistakeable vibe on Active Child's Mercy -- insouciant and imperious, with Pat Grossi singing in a rich Michael McDonald-esque upper register over shimmering plastic guitars. The group began as a solemn project, a choirboy playing harp and singing in a feather-delicate voice over clicks, but as the project has drifted, Grossi has explored more escapist sounds. Mercy, surprisingly, feels like the soundtrack to a beach that is never too far away, so the taste of salt is still on your tongue.
For those at a loose-end and with the wherewithal to have a crack at making an Active Child record, as a starter for ten you'd be in good stead with a gander at the album cover for Mercy. There you'll find Pat Grossi's ingredients for the cauldron laid out: alabaster busts and neon lights, a Margiela-esque mask half-inched from Kanye and a faded photograph, exotic pink flowers and gaudy gold ornaments. There's even a crystal cube with a laser etching of Grossi's own face in it, his face etched the kind of stern seriousness appropriate for someone trapped within a crystal cube for eternity.