Passion Pit: I don't like them as much as I'm supposed to

I Don't Like Them As Much As I'm Supposed To

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Passion Pit, Manners

A new Passion Pit tune, “Moth’s Wings”, hit the internet the other day. If I was a delusional paranoid maniac I’d swear it exists purely to piss me off; my flat’s currently infested with moths eating my clothes, and my internet’s infested with Passion Pit eating my attention.

At the time of writing Passion Pit seem to appear in my RSS feeds more than any other act, and casting an eye over the “Top Artists” at music aggregator Elbo.ws you’ll see Passion Pit above Kanye West, Lady GaGa and Little Boots. How did this happen?

“Sleepyhead”, the first single to spring from the Chunk Of Change EP, was quite a lovely thing: a psychedelic collage of samples, sighs, synths and beats which sent music bloggers into paroxysms of ear lust.

That the EP from which it came was originally a mixtape for main guy Michael Angelakos’s college girlfriend added a youthfully romantic dimension to the release which lovelorn indie nerds were helpless to resist.

“Sleepyhead” was near the top of numerous “Best Of” lists for 2008, which naturally fed anticipation for an album. Over the last month or so tracks have started to appear online hinting at the direction Passion Pit’s debut album Manners will take.

In my opinion it’s at this point that the almost unavoidable buzz should have started to level out. Next single “The Reeling” suggests Passion Pit might be one of those bands who detractors are destined to blithely dismiss with that dreaded adjective: “samey”.

Passion Pit – The Reeling

The song’s pleasant enough, but it doesn’t have the infectious quality of “Sleepyhead” and as a result you’re left to focus on the other elements; the most prominent for me being Angelakos’s voice, which strikes me as always over-reaching and which I can imagine disappointing in a live setting.

But “Sleepyhead” was a hard act to follow so you can forgive the band for not quite matching up to it. The aforementioned “Moth’s Wings”, then, is a chance to win over sceptics. And if your doubts are likely to be swept away by the sound of a band combining Animal Collective’s pastoral psych-pop and Arcade Fire’s ambitious anthem-building, you’ll be appropriately converted.

I like it more than “The Reeling”, that’s for sure – but two decent songs doesn’t justify Passion Pit’s vaunted status in the blogosphere. Although, to be fair to the band, very few artists who find themselves the subject of endless, breathless blog posts are worthy of such attention. People don’t want to be seen to be sleeping when the next big thing arrives, and so the MP3 blog feedback loop begins. I’m not saying that I’m immune to the phenomenon, just that when it occurs it’s worth noting the fact and trying to get a little perspective.

Another new track, “Little Secrets”, has surfaced recently. It adds an electro-funk dimension to the band’s anthemic ambitions, but like “The Reeling” it lacks a melody strong enough to convince me they’re likely to be much more than another hipster plaything to be cherished and swiftly discarded.

I read someone the other day remarking that the backlash for Passion Pit should come around in May when the album’s released, and that’s probably true. It shouldn’t really be a backlash, though – there should never have been as much hype surrounding Passion Pit as there is, and to me they look like just another band waiting to be chewed up and spat out by the (literal and figurative) Hype Machine.

Only time will tell of course, but the likelihood that the exposure they’ve received will translate into record sales seems small. Then again, their Wikipedia page states that they’re going to appear on The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz’s new show Rockville, so that will certainly help expose them to people who actually buy music.

None of this is meant as a dig at Passion Pit – if their album is as good as people want it to be I can see it being the best way to soundtrack the summer of ’09. But if it’s not, the marketing folk gaining all these acres of exposure are going to need to think of a way to convince us otherwise.

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  1. CJ says:

    Hoorah! I totally agree. I went to see these guys on tour with Bear Hands and Hockey, and they were specifically not great. Despite this, it felt like I had stepped into the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, as all these bastardly young uni-indie midges flitted around enthusing about PP’s awesomeness. I much preferred Hockey, but then that could be my age…

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