Passion Pit Album Preview

'Manners' given the once-over ahead of its release...

Centred around the songwriting skills of frontman Michael Angelakos, Massachusetts five-piece Passion Pit are among the clutch of Great White Hopes for this musical year, identified as proverbial ones to watch in the January rush to expose the newest of the new the industry has to offer.

Unlike many other outfits bestowed with the burden of delivering on so much hype, though, Passion Pit’s debut album ‘Manners’ – released on May 18 via Columbia – is exhibiting all the hallmarks of being a bona-fide brilliant release. Whereas it seems likely a handful of the band’s buzz-status peers will fall by the wayside as early as the festival season – c’mon, it’s not like Florence really has all that much crossover appeal – their star’s ascendancy is assured.

Because the album’s pop sensibilities are evident from even the most cursory of background listens, a first-time-through while engaged primarily in another activity; ‘Manners’ cuts through the indifference of office reception, imposing itself whatever the task at hand. Suffice to say that it’s had its share of plays on the Clash stereo, and each time we’re hearing something new to enjoy.

The album’s lead single, ‘The Reeling’, is a glitch-splattered neon-glow of a potential smash, all percussive playfulness and stuttering synth purrs, underpinned at all times by Angelakos’ engaging vocal performance. Some will suggest his singular tones aren’t as perfect as a band of Passion Pit’s level of expectation warrant, but through not being the best singer in the world, the emotional core of Angelakos’ lyricism becomes nakedly apparent. Much like preceding EP ‘Chunk Of Change’ (REVIEW), ‘Manners’ is written with little landing off the record. It’s as much an act of catharsis as it is composing with an expanding audience in mind.

But this is no review proper, merely a taster of an album we’re feeling has every chance to rank as one of the year’s best, alongside the likes of Animal Collective, The Horrors (yes, really!) and Gallows, to name but three bands with great records either out already or forthcoming. Over the course of eleven diverse tracks, Passion Pit lay down their agenda with perfect pitch and absolute clarity – this is pop music that dares to differ from the mainstream, but never without recognising traits so vital in immediacy, in connection with an audience.

Take ‘Fold In Your Hands’, a shimmering opus that rises on building synth motifs before the whole thing collapses in on itself with a fractured vocal and rippling bassline – it’s something you’ve heard before, in a sense, yet brilliantly maverick of spirit. ‘Eyes As Candles’ and ‘Let Your Love Grow Tall’ play out as ballads for modern lovers disenfranchised with the schlock that so often passes for expression of the heart, and a slightly tweaked ‘Sleepyhead’ absolutely warrants its repeat presence from the band’s breakthrough EP, exuding as it does a most invigorating freshness and hyperactivity of histrionic emoting. It’s a brilliant, brilliant song, and ‘Manners’ would seem slightly poorer without it.

Come the record’s close, what’s striking is just how deep the desire for replay burns – personally, this writer has been through this record a dozen or more times now, and be it via headphones or public play, it reveals additional nuances with each visit: a sure-fire sign of an album with true longevity, and an indicator that it will outlast any flurry of release-period acclaim to perform successfully on a commercial plain.

‘Manners’ tracklist…

‘Make Light’
‘Little Secrets’
‘Moth’s Wings’
‘The Reeling’
‘Eyes As Candles’
‘Swimming In The Flood’
‘Folds In Your Hands’
‘To Kingdom Come’
‘Let Your Love Grow’
‘Seaweed Song’

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Passion Pit – ‘Sleepyhead’ (EP version)

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For more on Passion Pit, check out the next issue of Clash magazine for our exclusive interview with Michael Angelakos, in stores April 2. Find Passion Pit on MySpace HERE.

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