Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Alright, Passion Pit's Pretty Proper.

Reposted with permission from

The college music scene drives me insane sometimes. Getting beaten over the head with new releases by staple artists as a result of overblown hype rather than talent can get positively exhausting after a few short years. So how are we supposed to weed out the bands that actually deserve our praise, if, after hearing the crappy ones over and over, we might've finally been desensitized to real music worth the attention?

I don't have an answer, trust me. However, a few of my adventures into the hype machine may hopefully bring some light to the subject.

First and most important question on the docket: what am I supposed to be listening for when I'm sifting through piles of hipster/gangster-endorsed records? The most basic answers are, of course:
(1) Whether I can jam to it, or
(2) Whether I take the artist's lyrics to heart. Also,
(3) whether the song gets stuck in my head for an extended period of time should also be taken into moderate account.*

**This question can be overlooked in a number of cases. Like Brooke Hogan's single, "Falling."

But then, there are more refined questions that must be addressed. Some of these include:
(1) How much effort did this artist put into his/her/their album?
(2) Do I take it seriously (read: is it Brooke Hogan?) Or, is it intentionally and endearingly silly?
(3) Is it unique, or does it parrot something already around?
(4) How far can this artist go without being unforgivably adventurous?
(5) And, is there something about this record or artist that makes me biased for/against him/her/them?

Taking all of these into consideration, I had a tough time cracking the egg that was Passion Pit's new full-length album, Manners. Having known bassist Jeff Apruzzese from his previous band, The Peasantry, I was initially encouraged to enjoy the new music. However, avoiding the obvious pitfall of personal bias was not as hard as I thought it would be. I was definitely nonplussed when I saw them open for Girl Talk at BU this past fall, and--sorry, Jeff--no amount of friendly affection would have convinced me otherwise.

Then, when their EP Chunk of Change hit the stands earlier this year, I thought I'd give them another chance (here's where my friend duties were fulfilled). However, yet again, I was sorely disappointed. Nothing caught my ear at all, not melody, not lyrics, not exceptional musical prowess--excepting, of course, the lead singer's "unique" vocal timbre. Overall, I just did not enjoy listening to it.

Nevertheless, when a friend lent me her copy of the band's newest release, I decided ONE MORE LISTEN wasn't going to kill me--hopefully.

And what do you know? I started bobbing my head. I Googled the lyrics of three of the songs. Track four, "The Reeling," stuck in my head for a good 24 hours.

So what the hell changed? These are some reasons I came up with:
(1) I unknowingly hit my head (not unlikely) and now have amnesia.
(2) I unknowingly underwent radical eardrum surgery (unlikely rating: 7 of 10) and now all sounds are equally enjoyable.
(3) Zombies made me do it. (highest unlikelihood, 9.5 of 10--because you never know.)
(4) I just got used to it--a musical Münchausen Syndrome.
(5) I finally picked up on the likability of the music.

All things considered, I've decided it's a combination of 4 and 5 (though I haven't ruled out zombies). While I know my getting used to the sounds of the album has a good deal to do with it, I have to admit that the electronic beats and unique vocals have an attractive quality in themselves. It's pretty new-agey, sure, but this is the future, and it's jammin'! You can certainly dance to it, there's a substantial level of talent apparent in the album's varying tracks, and lyrics like "Now I'm dreaming somebody/Would simply come and kidnap me" attain the perfect level of angst; for me, anyway.

So who knows? Give that band you hated a few months ago one more might just have a change of heart and acquire some new ear candy. More love, less hate, right?

All I'm saying for sure is, while it's not my "summer album," a couple tracks on Manners may creep their way onto a couple of my weekend party playlists. Thanks, guys.

•Extra!• After I'd begun this post, NPR's All Songs Considered released its most recent and highly relevant blog/podcast, entitled "Music You Should Love, But Don't." Check out the blog and post your thoughts here, or download the podcast here.

•Extra Extra!• Check out this really bizarre video from, of all places, ABC News, on Passion Pit and Manners...a friend shared this, and we agreed: couldn't stop laughing at all the irony.

-Devon Maloney

1 comment:

jessy said...

funny how it takes a few tries for a band to click. there was a time when i didn't really care for tegan & sara! ha! anyways, i am going to finally check out this band.