Lisa Entwistle Reviews Manners Album by Passion Pit
Passion Pit is a group of American musicians from Cambridge, Massachusetts. The group consists of Michael Angelakos who provides lead vocals and keys, Ian Hultquist another Keyboard player and guitarist, Ayad Al Adhamy brining the ever so increasingly fashionable band 'must have item' synth/sample elements, Jeff Apruzzese on bass and Nate Donmoyer playing drums. 'Manners' is the first full-length album release by the band following their 2008 EP 'Chunk of Change'.
Trying to write this review has been increasingly difficult to do. I have felt like I have given a stream of negative responses to so many albums that I have reviewed lately which has given way to some trepidation to say the least. My disappointment and fear came after roughly 10 seconds of the opening track on this album. Then it continued to grow throughout the remainder. Listening to this album makes me feel like I should be wearing my pink pastel puffball balloon pattern dress and getting ready for a kiddies birthday party circa 1987. Whilst that brings a strangely welcome sense of nostalgia, one I hoped would help outweigh any negativity, was in fact nothing more than delusion, the oscillated pitch bent stale melodies of tracks like 'Eyes as Candles' outnumber any warm and fuzzy feelings.
I think it would be right to also mention Michael's falsetto vocal; it becomes rather irritating in the end. There are far too many high octave melodies overlapping to then add another top scale vocal. I mean how long did people put up with Mika for. like a week? If it were an old vinyl record I'd be checking the speed I was playing it on. Sleepyhead has fabulous examples of a warped chipmunk sound! This track then amongst the ear piercing high-pitched vocals also opts to create a horrible oriental sound, with added whizzy whips and fuzz's of samples getting pitch bent to hell. Oh and don't forget the delicate bell chimes!
'Let your Love Grow Tall' is a more than just a vomit inducing pop title but it actually is a sugar-coated pop synth faux rock track with a formulaic rousing chorus and escalation of melody played on increasing layers of instruments. Passion pits track all seem to build to some sort of elusive climax and it's not as if it's a tease in a good way. No pay off comes, just another track.
Their melodic changes remind me of a bad 80's version of the Super Furry Animals. I don't know if it's the instrument sounds they choose which cheapen the tracks or if they just haven't quite got the melody right which has let Passion Pit down, but whatever it is, it unfortunately does. The frustrating thing about listening to this album is that it could have been good. It could have been interesting. I enjoy the elements they have chosen to include, but Neon Neon does it much more stylishly. I don't have anything against pop but when it feels so pop targeted it also feels cheapened.
'Folds in Your Arms' has a skiffly jerky backing track, clichÃ© chopped up vocal skits and has a sound of a diluted Britney Spears track, and not one of her better beat ridden filth bass romps like 'Toxic', more like a sickly ballad remix from some washed out House DJ. 'Swimming in the Flood' also has misguided choices for sounds, the bass drum sounds like its been made on a cheap defunct sampler, and not in a quirky kitsch way like the Flight of The Conchords might have chosen. It sounds like outdated technology being used in an outdated and uninspiring way.
Overall if I had to think about who would enjoy this album, I would be hard pushed to decide. Something about their catchy, sugary way will no doubt win Passion Pit fans. I however shall not be one of them.