Manners is the debut studio album from Passion Pit, a project spear headed by Michael Angelakos, employing the same dream pop ethics which have catapulted such acts as MGMT and Empire of the Sun to a well felt presence within mainstream electronica. The band are currently treading a complicated line between indie and mainstream, signed to Frenchkiss (an independent label owned by Les Savy Fav bassist Syd Butler) in the States, whilst signed to Columbia here in the U.K. – odd considering the band hails from Boston. Despite this, there was much buzz over their EP Chunk of Change which actually began life as a Valentines present for Angelakos’ girlfriend of the time. An extended budget, and a growing number of expectant fans paved the way for their first full-length, Manners.
With the uniquely euphoric vocals from Angelakos, and lyrics which lift the mood “higher and higher and higher” (as ‘Little Secrets’ chants), it is easy to imagine this album as a firm fixture within many a CD changer/iPod this summer. The glitchy electronics (akin at times to the like produced by Hot Chip) blend well with the, for want of a better word, sunny keyboards, and the effective layering of each track makes it only too easy to bask in the trip-pop splendour of it all. Angelakos’ vocals are the right mix of silky and desperate, the synths incorporating moments of dream like calm with explosive waves which beg the demand “dancefloor: NOW”. If you’ve ever seen the winged horse sequence in Disney’s Fantasia, I challenge you not to picture a world fitting for such creations upon listening to this dream pop masterpiece. The only criticism I have for this opus, is how samey, especially in regards to the first half, it quickly becomes. Although consistency in a work such as this is often regarded a bonus, I find it increasingly difficult to differentiate each track from another, with only a handful of standout tracks (such as ‘Little Secrets’, ‘The Reeling’, ‘Swimming in the Flood’ and ‘Sleepyhead’). This may of course be partially due to my insistence to listen to the album whilst happily lazing across the room from my laptop, but I am certain others will find the same problem. The band’s most successful single to date ‘Sleepyhead’ is already a firm favourite on indie dancefloors on both sides of the pond, so it would seem only inevitable that Passion Pit will find themselves the new reigning kings of “dork disco”.