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Passion Pit - Chunk of Change

  by Mark Rowland

published: 3 / 3 / 2009

Passion Pit - Chunk of Change
Label: French Kiss
Format: CDS


Convincing debut UK EP from much hyped Boston-based electronica group Passion Pit who have they’ve mixed dance, indie, pop, psychedelia and even a hint of hip hop with superb effect.

Of all the bands that have been tipped for great things this year, Passion Pit are the most interesting. Though synth powered like many of the hyped up acts of 2009, they haven’t taken the easy route of simply recreating the sounds that bands were producing 29 years ago. Instead, they’ve mixed dance, indie, mature pop, psychedelic music and even a hint of hip hop into one neat, shimmering package. The band are actually the brainchild of one man, Michael Angelakos, who wrote and recorded everything on the 'Chunk of Change' EP as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend. Realising that the results were good, Angelakos started giving out the EP to his friends and students at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. It was eventually picked up by indie label French Kiss, who released Chunk of Change in the US last Autumn. Sony Subsidiary Columbia subsequently put the record out in the UK, their marketing power probably playing a big part in the column inches and airplay the band are receiving this side of the pond. Comparisons between Passion Pit and MGMT are inevitable, mainly for both band’s use of synths, but Passion Pit are not as self-consciously psychedelic as MGMT – a lot of the latter’s pretentions are absent from 'Chunk of Change', and the quality of the songs on the EP is much more consistent than ‘Oracular Spectacular’. Opening song ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ starts with a lo-fi electronic beat, with swirling, evolving synth sounds and handclaps joining it after a spell. ‘Smile Upon Me’ flickers and blips, held together at the back by a steady electronic beat and more swirling synths. ‘Cuddle Fuddle’ changes pace and tone a little by employing a hip-hop beat with a duel organ and distorted piano riff, before hitting a euphoric chorus. Angelakos’ voice is shaky at best, but his passion and conviction make up for his lack of vocal chops. He also has an ear for a catchy hook, and despite barely holding it together at times (His voice is all over the place at the end of ‘Live to Tell the Tale’) Angelakos’ wide-eyed, ecstatic yelps ultimately appeal. The final two songs, ‘Better Things’ and ‘Sleepyhead’, were added belatedly to the EP. Both employ warped samples for their main hooks, with ‘Better Things’ filtering Pitchfork indie through the sounds of Gallic dance bands like Daft Punk. Single ‘Sleepyhead’ takes back the squeaky vocal sample from dubious commercial R&B and manages to incorporate it into a song without it being irritating. In an age where commercial music in the UK is becoming more and more trend driven, where bands and artists are picked up and dropped by our media at a ridiculous rate, it’s harder and harder to trust the recommendations that they throw our way. It’s good to see that, occasionally, they can still get it right.

Track Listing:-
1 I've Got Your Number
2 Smile Upon Me
3 Cuddle Fuddle
4 Live To Tell The Tale
5 Better Things
6 Sleepyhead

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live reviews

KOKO, London, 28/10/2009
Passion Pit - KOKO, London, 28/10/2009
Mark Rowland discovers Massachusetts-based electronic band and former bedroom act Passion Pit to have an increasingly comfortable stage presence at a gig at ther KOKO in London

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