Passion Pit – Manners Review

Passion Pit

Manners

9/10

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Herein lies a problem: can you legitimately go about writing an album review regarding a ‘buzz’ band? I write an occasional column in The Press, and last time it was published I wrote about Passion Pit and how ridiculously tedious the blogosphere has become, certainly in terms of hyping bands beyond reasonable means. Too many artists fail miserably and fall in to a rut of mediocrity and underassessment; nothing they ever create will ever compete with the one song that got them to the top of a ‘Ones To Watch’ list. Not so Passion Pit! ‘Sleepyhead’ was the sooperdooper bundle of joy first released on superblog-turned-label Neon Gold, and probably made them a fair penny too, alas the Cambridge (U.S.) five-piece followed up an EP with an album of utter joy, euphoria, happiness, whichever-way-you-want-to-call-it in the form of ‘Manners’…

Opener ‘Make Light’ just prowls right in to it (whatever ‘it’ is) with skyscraping synth melodies and a trudging beat that builds up and up and up and up and up. ‘Little Secrets’ debuts the hyper-kinetic synth-grunge-powerpop that Passion Pit do so well with rolling drum patterns and a strangely unsettling children’s choir echoing in the foreground. ‘Moth’s Wings’, ‘Eyes As Candles’ and ‘To Kingdome Come’ bring a flamboyant 80’s vibe with flashing keyboards and HUGE snare sounds. But really, both you and I know that the album would not achieve as much as it has without the likes of single ‘The Reeling’ and ‘Sleepyhead’ (thankfully the same as the version on earlier E.P. Chunk of Change). The former is just simply divine, sporting an outrageously euphoric chorus that can so-very-easily be shouted out aloud. The latter is still the stunning piece of pop it always was (and probably always will be), its full vision finally realised in the context of an album.

What ‘Manners’ boils down to is this: ‘Sleepyhead’ times 11. Every track features the swooning and slightly camp falsetto of Michael Angelakos wailing over every track, possibly overbearing but ultimately enthralling, his swarming melodies have the ability to put one in a state of constant arousal. This, combined with the Rapture-gone-Motown-doubleclap-fandiddlytasticness of the backing, pushes the listener in to a state of pure bliss, pretty much like running down a hill superfast on a bunch of good E.

Really, really good E.

But that’s where the fanaticisms end. What gives ‘Manners’ such a high rating certainly isn’t the musicianship (Animal Collective they are not), but the eye for a simple, memorable and purely thrilling melody makes this album so damn good. In an age where using as many different instruments as possible, stealing people from bands to make inconsequential side-projects and milking the ‘math’ genre to its core is prevalent, Passion Pit make a stand as one of the few acts without a revolving line-up or merry-go-round back catalogue, an aesthetically simple band that just wants you to dance and be happy. Is that too much to ask?

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