So its gotten to the stage where everyone’s just sick of MGMT. Sure, they were great last year, with their supercatchy electronica providing the soundtrack for a lazy, boozy summer. However, their rise to mainstream success has paradoxically led to a decrease in popularity, and coupled with an underwhelming live show, music enthusiasts have found themselves in need of a new soundtrack for this year’s summer. I propose that this void be filled by Passion Pit.
Passion Pit’s singular focus is to make music which, frankly, is impossible to dislike. Fortunately, their debut LP Manners succeeds in this respect, with track after track of superbly catchy melodies. From the opening number “Make Light” to the closing “Seaweed Song”, this album is non-stop synthpop. Unfortunately, though, it still suffers from the traditional formatting of an album. Which it to say, it roughly resembles the batting line-up of a cricket team:
- Tracks 1-4: Starting out with a solid (if unspectacular) track, the album proves promising, and builds on this with the most radio-friendly track at no. 4. Cricket openers are often the most reliable players on a team: you can count on them to deliver, just don’t go expecting too much.
- Tracks 5-7: The middle of the album, often these tracks are hit-or-miss. The best song on the album may be sandwiched between two fillers, often being overlooked by all but the most ardent fans due to bad placement. In cricket, these positions will quite often produce the best score of the innings, only it will be diminished by the dismal failures of those surrounding.
- Tracks 8-11: The final third (fourth/eleventh?) of the album, this is basically the dregs. On the whole not too much is delivered by these tracks, save for an occasional spectacular performance. The best example I can think of is “Ize of the World” on The Strokes’ First Impressions of Earth, a superb track third from last that is encircled by mediocrity. In cricketing terms, this is the lower order/tail-enders. These batsmen are, by and large, woefully inadequate, save for the occasional spellbinding innings fuelled by an unorthodox technique that works one in a million times.
Despite their American background, Passion Pit’s debut effort does tangentially follow the playing setup of an obscure (by their standards) sport. Tracks 1-4 are probably the best ones of the album, with “The Reeling”, an insanely likeable tune, rounding this section off. Honestly, I challenge you to listen to “The Reeling” and not even dance one little bit. If you do not, I am sorry; for it appears that you are paralysed from the waist down at least.
Tracks 5-7 aren’t particularly outstanding, except for no. 6, “Swimming in the Flood”. Beginning with a memorable keyboard loop, it goes from strength to strength, culminating in a hauntingly beautiful chorus.
Tracks 8-11 are again fairly mediocre, though we must remember that this is judging them against the extremely high standard set by the opening few songs; for any other band, they might have made a “Best of” compilation (I’m looking at you, Nikki Webster. How dare you think that you had enough quality songs to fill an entire CD? Outrageous!) The exception is Track 9, “Sleepyhead”, an amalgam of just plain weirdness that somehow, inexplicably, works.
Overall, I’d give this album…no rating, as I am far too pretentious to reduce such musical wizardry to an arbitrary ratings scale.
In other news, Chuck Klosterman’s new book “Eating the Dinosaur” comes out next week, or the week after, or sometime soon. Why am I excited? Wait, you didn’t know I was excited? Well, I’ll tell you why. Chuck Klosterman wrote the best book I have read in the last year, and considering that I’ve read at least 14 different ones, that’s a pretty impressive achievement. In fact, my top five books of the year (that I read this year, not released this year):
5. The Professional Athlete’s Handbook- Drew Magary
4. The Orange-Mocha Frappucino Years- Ross O’Carroll Kelly/Paul Howard
3. Watchmen- Alan Moore + Dave Gibbons
2. Blink- Malcolm Gladwell
1. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs- Chuck Klosterman
See? Even better than Watchmen!
Yeah. That’s all.