I remember it like it was yesterday. Spring was turning into summer, and there was a feeling of hope and change running through the country. It was sepia-toned if I’m not mistaken, and they were the greatest days of our lives.
I was visiting my friend, Kevin, who has been my go-to guy for music chat. He’s introduced me to a lot of good bands over the years — Brand New, Ghostland Observatory and Manchester Orchestra to name a few. His greatest contribution to my musical world, however, came on this particular night. We had been talking about a lot of stuff. Mainly music, but also things like World Cup Soccer, which he is very into.
As I was getting ready to leave, he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Hey! I have this band you must listen to before you go.” Knowing his taste in music, I was intrigued. He grabbed his iPod and we went out to sit in my car and give this band a spin.
Before he hit play he mentioned that I might think it was weird, and I got nervous. When the music started I knew why he said that. My brain had a hard time processing what was going on. Crazy synths and a dude with a falsetto so high I thought my windows were going to start cracking. This was Passion Pit‘s EP, Chunk of Change. A definite must if you’re going to listen to the album I’ve been avoiding reviewing thus far, Manners.
After hearing the EP, I was very excited to check out the full-length a couple weeks later. The music was a bit weird at first, but once the initial shock and confusion goes away, you start to realize that Passion Pit knows how to put together great tracks over and over again.
But Manners is not an EP; it’s an LP. And while many of the songs are very good, it’s an LP that gets bogged down in some self-indulgence on a few tracks, and doesn’t flow as well as Chunk Of Change does. There’s a lot to recommend on Manners, but it’s missing the punch and sustained energy of the shorter release.
One of the best tracks on the full-length is “Little Secrets.” It’s got a disco-funk rhythm that I find impossible not to dance to. The lyrics, also, add a bit of weight to an otherwise light, bouncy track:
Mother I can tell what you’ve been thinking
Staring at the stars on your ceiling
Thinking once there was a power you were wielding
And now I’ve hit the mark
Stabbing at the dark
And I cannot help but ignore the people staring at my scars
Pretty dark stuff for a band that I generally think of when I want to dance and have fun. I suppose that’s the best thing about Passion Pit. They’ve definitely got the stuff when it comes to making you get down and boogie, but they’re also writing songs that are intelligent. They deal with the subjects they write about in a very real way, and they don’t shy away from the somber side of things. The trick is that they constantly keep you smiling and your body rockin’ while speaking their minds about real issues.
And for that, I recommend Passion Pit to a whole slew of music lovers. If you like dance music, you’ll love it. If you like to be enlightened through song, you’ll love it. If you just want to have a good time with your friends, sitting around in your car, you’ll love it.
I would definitely say, to anyone thinking about checking out Passion Pit for the first time, pick up the EP first. If you like it, you’ll probably dig Manners. If not, Passion Pit may not be for you. And I pity you.
- Passion Pit hails from Cambridge, Massachusetts and is: Michael Angelakos (vocals/synth), Ian Hultquist (synth), Ayad Al Adhamy (synth), Jeff Apruzzese (bass) and Nate Donmoyer (drums).
- Manners is available on Passion Pit’s website for $9.99 (mp3s).
- Chunk of Change is available on iTunes for $5.99 (mp3s).
- The group doesn’t have any upcoming engagements in Chicago. But, they will be playing in Dekalb on Thursday, October 21 at Northern Illinois University. Tickets are $39.75-$43.85 (fees included).
“The Reeling” official music video