While UK music [arguably] struggles to find it’s late-noughties identity, many here in Ireland have embraced a certain eclecticism (often of a distinctly electronic flavour) in a bid to explore, move with the times and stay fresh. We seem to share this appetite with our cousins across the Atlantic.
In the US, bands such as TV on the Radio, Animal Collective and MGMT have had critics slavering at their ankles, and justly so. They are refreshingly daring, modern and yet unashamed to wear their influences on their sleeve when necessary. To this list, add Massachusetts’ Passion Pit.
From the start, Manners is evidence that Passion Pit are big players, albeit in a game possibly top-heavy with comparable rivals. There are enough complexities to mean more listens still yield new pleasures and the two opensing songs -Make Light- and -Little Secret’ together with the soaring synths of -The Reeling’ are particular highlights.
However, there is a massive -but’ and this is singularly down to the lead vocals of Michael Angelakos. While many may find the falsetto screech endearing, some will surely find it too much to endure. Had this album not been saturated by these piercing vocals it may not have been as memorable, but at least it would have been bearable. As it is, many will only be able to take Manners on an occasional one-song-only basis. In fact if, as legend has it, the previous EP Chunk of Change was originally intended as a valentine gift for Angelakos’ then-girlfriend, one can only assume the relationship suffered a mortal blow when she heard him singing.
This is not to completely dissuade the discerning listener, for this certainly is an album of considerable quality. But, on balance, it is one that should perhaps carry some form of government health warning.