Coming Around to Passion Pit

Jun. 15, 2009
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I'd dismissed Manners, the debut album for Boston's indie-electro fetishists Passion Pit, after a couple grating initial listens and reading some icy reviews from sources I trust that seemed to confirm my first read. I've been revisiting the record over the last couple weeks, though, swayed by friends who are utterly smitten with it, and sure enough, I've come around to it.

I still can't share their complete enthusiasm. I'm thrown off brazenly Passion Pit pillages MGMT, Hot Chip and Of Montreal records that still feel hot off the presses. Singer Michael Angelakos, when he lets down his overstretched falsetto, even borrows Animal Collective's unmistakable vocal ticks. It's hard to tell whether this is homage or plagiarism—but I suppose it doesn't matter. I love commercial pop music often because it's so unabashedly current and self-referential, so it'd be hypocritical to hold an independent band to a different standard, especially a band so agreeably hooky. Manners, then, is the indie-rock equivalent of a Top 40 record caked in Auto-Tune and copy-cat, Timbaland-ish production. It may not be original—it may even be a little obnoxious—but it's still a welcome summertime album.

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