Album Review: Manners by Passion Pit

2 Jul

Passion Pit

Passion Pit

Talk about “the power of love.”

Passion Pit’s debut EP, Chunk of Change, was originally recorded in 2008 by singer and keyboardist Michael Angelakos as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend. The album was an underground hit in the band’s native Boston. The strength of the single “Sleepyhead” put in rotation by music heavyweights like MTV and BBC. As a result of touring with indie giants like Death Cab for Cutie (and, of course, thanks to quality music,) Passion Pit was signed to Columbia Records shortly after their EP’s release. Their first full-length album, Manners, was released in May.

At its core, Manners is pure summer fun. The band takes its cues from bands famous in the decade that raised them. Keyboards abound on the record, creating a sparkling glow that runs through the duration of the album. The drums thump along through the keyboard sheen, while Angelakos’ falsetto squeals over the din. Despite its ultra-shiny veneer, Passion Pit is the thinking person’s dance music; Angelakos lyrics are deceptively deep and filled with the kind of doubt and angst that will catch the astute listener off guard.

The standout on the album is easily “Sleepyhead,” the famous track from the band’s previous EP. It is a prime example of the band using their sound the right way: it combines equal parts ear-candy flash and authentic songwriting prowess. Passion Pit throws in a few surprises along the way: several of the songs, like “Let Your Love Grow Tall,” feature an elementary school choir. It’s this kind of ingenuity that makes Manners such a surprise—it’s got the funk, but it’s also got the heart.

While the album is no doubt party music, it doesn’t stand up as well when the lights come up. The vocal style tends to wear thin as the album progresses, and for all its strengths, Manners is a difficult album to put on repeat. Still, the band rocks like its been doing this since the 80s, and has a ton of fun while doing it.

Passion Pit is a band that wants you to want to dance. While the music is keyboard-heavy, it isn’t weighed down by its own nostalgia. The group has taken the best of a played-out genre and made it feel new again.

Standout Tracks: “Sleepyhead” and “The Reeling”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Biggest Strength: It’s a damn good party album.
Biggest Weakness: The party’s gotta end some time.
The Final Word: An album that does fun the right way – with equal parts style and sophistication.

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