Passion Pit | Manners (Frenchkiss)

Together, this quintet creates delicious American electro-pop by the spoonfuls.

Warning: if you absolutely despise synthesizers and cringe at the thought of high falsettos, this band is not for you. The rest of us, however, are falling blissfully, head over heels in love with Passion Pit’s album, Manners. The music, fittingly, began as a Valentine’s Day gift. Lead singer/songwriter Michael Angelakos was trying to woo his then-girlfriend, but he ran into a problem when his gift was late. Thinking beyond the jewelry, chocolates and sappy Hallmark cards, Angelakos instead sang his heart out. He conquered V-day unscathed, and a musical journey was born from a simple man and his laptop.
The music was Angelakos’ pet project initially, but now four other talented musicians have joined him to form Passion Pit. Ian Hultquist, Ayad Al Adhamy and Jeff Apruzzese. contribute to the heavy synth landscape on Manners. Nate Donmoyer is the standout drummer, and Apruzzese also handles bass. Together, this quintet creates delicious American electro-pop by the spoonfuls. Angelakos’ high falsetto is present throughout Manners, as are the synthesizers. These two musical elements hold the debut album together with few misses.
“Make Light” opens the record with a high energy, up-tempo beat, though the falsetto here may turn a few listeners off as Angelakos hits some uncomfortably high notes. “Little Secrets” and “To Kingdom Come” demand head-swaying and toe-tapping.
“The Reeling” is the album’s first single and it fared well on the Billboard charts. With funky synth and prominent drums, this song becomes quite addictive and lends itself especially well to playlists.
The other standout on the album is “Sleepyhead,” originally released on 2008’s Chunk of Change EP. Thankfully, it was re-released for Manners. The sound reminds one of a soothing lullaby sung by funky fairies with distorted voices. This may be a strange description, but wait until you hear it.
The final track is “Seaweed Song.” Here, Angelakos sounds a lot like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys put to an electro-pop beat. Even the lyrics could hint at a Wilson reference with the chorus: “Nobody knows you the way you know you, but I think I do, but I thought I knew, yeah, I thought I knew.”
An extended version of Manners includes a couple of stripped down versions of songs from the original eleven-song debut. Fans of acoustic music might want to spring for the extended version with new arrangements. A recent update from Nokia Inside Track on Facebook also offers acoustic versions of “I’ve Got Your Number,” “Moth’s Wings,” “The Reeling,” and “Sleepyhead.” A- | Mary Beth Hascall
RIYL: MGMT, Phoenix, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead

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