“Manners” – ‘Passion Pit’ [Joint Review]
I’m just going to start off and emphasise the fact that this week has been extremely hectic, I think, for both of us. I know a number of teachers and parents alike are hounding us for various pieces of work; I know the blood-thirsty-buggers are nearing, teachers with pitchforks, parents wagging fingers…
Nevertheless, sheer dedication is measured with self-sacrifice. And as I write this now, the sacrificial pyre burns brightly in the distance. I shudder at the thought, but onwards anyway – this week’s decision was unanimous. I not sure whether my counterpart, Michael Hodder, came across this first, or at the same time, or was inspired to by my listening to it. So I’m not going to put a definite on any, and I’ll begin by saying that ‘Passion Pit’ have stormed eagerly onto the stage, with their quintuplet-member band, featuring, and I’ll quote: “Michael Angelakos [lead vocals/keyboards], Ian Hultquist [keyboards], Ayad Al Adhamy [synth/samples], Jeff Apruzzese [bass] and Nate Donmoyer [drums]…”
Joint-review albums are simply one of my ‘highlights’ for the week, and according to the bank officials that interrogated me on Thursday, I’ve nothing else to look forward to: when I arranged my accounts in order, I’m apparently, and I’ll quote them directly “… a very simple man, with very simple tastes.” What a load of bullocks. Plus I have an American accent? Whoa, lady, where’d you pull that rabbit from; ‘Aus-tra-lia’, we’re no greedy-capitalist-economy…
But, straying slightly off topic: ‘Passion Pit’ has had me in awe of them for the past week-and-a-half, and that’s no joke. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing their album, “Manners”, over and over, and over, again, and again, again, for days on end. I get home, bang it on, and suddenly the depressing, mundane school-life hangover is lost in amongst a flaring beat, a flaring voice, with flaring synth – there’s no way you can hold a frown to this album. Whether or not it grows on you is up to how many times you play it through, but if it doesn’t grab you instantly, it never will.
“… I pity the fool.”
‘Passion Pit’ formed in ’07, and debuted in ’08 with the release of their EP “Chunk Of Change” – [intended as a Valentines Day gift for Angelakos’ girlfriend].
… Now they’re back with their full-length feature, “Manners”, and I can say, have a long, musical journey ahead of them. I can’t say I’ll be surprised if these guys get picked up by mainstream, their songs are upbeat, catchy, lyrics are audible, a little high-pitched, reminiscent – almost – of the ‘Scissor Sisters’ [bad example – citation needed #]. Hailing from Cambridge, USA, they refer to themselves as an electronic indie-pop band. And that just about fits, there’s nothing more to say genre wise, they’re consistent but fantastic.
“Manners” opens with the tickle of guitar, in “Make Light”; a heavy beat, and some synth keep that rhythm going. Layers upon layers, people, and it works. Building, and building to a mini-crescendo, then in come the vocals, some light percussion during this, then that chorus. There’s a definite shift between acoustic-instrumental and synth-instrumental, and it works efficiently, here.
Strangely, I’ve been noticing the first three tracks happen to be the first three I example in my reviews. I suppose the beginning and the end are important for me, and the middle, if that can catch my interest, then it’s all the better. And I’m reluctant to admit that the following song, the second track “Little Secrets”, is groundbreaking electronic indie-pop. I absolutely love it. Thrust unwillingly with the buzz of synth, then tossed about by heavy beat. You’ll be a bobble-head by the end of this one, I assure.
‘Passion Pit‘ do have tendency to dumb-down the music to allow for their vocals to kick in, as is appropriate. If you take a look at ‘TBD – The Bavarian Druglords – “205”‘, you’ll know that they do exactly the opposite, utilising it the human voice rather as an instrument. Vocals are important to ‘Passion Pit’, so they’ve strategically pieced their music to work around it – at the end of a verse, say, the synth draws emphasis at the end, acting as a beat also.
“Higher, and higher and higher…”
As a chorus of whom I can only imagine as little children, juxtapose the nature of ‘Angelakos’, they sure grab your attention. I know I was jumping for the sky, higher and higher and higher every time. Memorable lyrics from a memorable band.
Overall, “Manners” can appropriately be described as a Venus-fly-trap. I know, it’s reducing this band to a mindless, nervous-system-less plant, that according to Michael Hodder, is incapable of thought because “… plants can’t think…”, but hear me out. You see this cute little claw-like appendage reaching for the sky above all others, little teeth-like leaves open and ready. You, the flying little bug [just a metaphor], are hanging about somewhere, catch sight of this apparently harmless thing. You fly into it, things look good, things smell good, things taste good, and especially sound good – then, suddenly, you’re trapped!
For better or worse, you’ve been devoured by a band. In and out, your soul is flowing with ‘Passion Pit’ fury! And that just about sums it up – “Manners” starts off about the same way. Things look good, things smell good, things taste good, and especially sound good – happy, bouncy, joyous glee. And then, once you’re caught, there’s a steady slow-down in pace, with more soulful music, with less happy-happy. But, you’ll be hooked, coming back for more, I assure!
Check out their Myspace page for samples, and info at: http://www.myspace.com/passionpitjams
I’ll finish by saying that this is a top-rate band, another vintage to add to the shelf of growing wines called ‘Highly Evolved’. I’m proud to say that they’ve earned a five-outta-five rating from me. I just can’t deny them that. You might be thinking I’m going a little soft, since I gave ‘TBD’ one as well. But when you’re hot, you’re hot. Listen for yourself and find it all out, you’ll be just as amazed.
The Enantiomorphic God