Isn’t it just thrilling to say that pop music has rarely been in ruder health than it is, now in 2009? Pop music that sounds like it’s being beamed directly from a portal in the future to your ears, on a luxury space-colony on the Moon. And what’s more it’s actually, like, the mainstream and stuff that’s spearheading this trend. I’m still excited by the prospect of the forthcoming HEALTH and Dirty Projectors albums, of course, but arguably just as innovative and weird is what’s going on with the music of FrankMusik, and Passion Pit – overtly mainstream but with an obvious love of very specific electronic sounds, and glitchy stuff. It’s really thrilling that such great synth-pop music could exist and be being heard by the ears of huge swathes of people who will undoubtedly fail to understand it on as many levels as I do.
That was probably one of those numerous throwaway comments that will cause people to think that I’m a total dickhole, but you have to understand here that I’ve read people describing Passion Pit as “the M.O.R. MGMT”. Clearly they are only listening to Michael Angelakos’s luxurious blue-eyed soul vocals and not the music itself, because the only thing middle of the road about ‘Sleepyhead’, for example, is that it hits you as hard as a truck that hasn’t spotted you dicking about in the middle of the road. And that’s not even accounting for the fact that there’s something really genuinely creepy about Michael Angelakos that I’ve noticed is most apparent in one particular set of promotional shots. His band ALL LOOK EXACTLY LIKE HIM. Or, perhaps more accurately, different adumbrations of him. I think maybe he’s been cloning himself. But that’s a good thing. It’s fine when musicians of his calibre feel the need to exercise some might say excessive levels of control.
But the title of the album is still very appropriate because it is quite ‘mannered’, really, I mean it has a song on it called ‘Let Your Love Grow Tall’ which features a children’s choir, but like all ‘manners’ this is mostly just to disguise deep-seated passive-aggressive tendencies. This is an album that’s as raw, exciting, and poptacular as ‘Dare’ by the Human League. The next generation of pophiles will hear the likes of ‘Folds In Your Hands’ in the corners of the bars years from now and get unreasonably excited like I do when I hear ‘Darkness’ or whatever. Pop.
Given all this it seems unsettling that such a band would choose to open their album with a song as dull as ‘Make Light’, a fairly pedestrian slab of indie-rock, albeit one produced with the same shimmering, Bhundu Boys-reminiscent glow as the rest of the offerings here. Oh well. It sounds kind of like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah I guess if they’d decided to go really mainstream on their second album instead of making Some Loud Thunder. The only really worrying thing is whether or not this is a sign Angelakos et al don’t quite understand that their own best strengths emerge when they get the weird/corny/lustrous balance right.
But let’s not end on such a negative note. Not least because it’s followed by ‘Little Secrets’, probably the absolute best thing on here, Cats In Paris colliding, open hands to hold, with the Jackson 5. Then tied up and forced to soundtrack a creepy new-age recruitment video, together. And besides, I’m just too bowled-over by the joy of ‘Kingdom Come’ right now as I write this to care. Oh man. I wish we were force-fed stuff of this quality all the time, really I do. For once I’m more than happy to leave it to the major labels. This is a sparkling, glorious, and weird pure pop record that glows. Passion Pit really understand what goes into great pop music.