james debate
james debate

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Genre Electro-pop, Indie
Label Columbia
Release date(s) 18th May 2009

We at the Ephemeric have been keeping track of this one for a very very long time. Ever since his chunk of change EP started doing the rounds on these interwebs last year, people have been hyping his first full album release as one of the biggest things of this year.

With all this pressure one had to wonder if there was any way it would live up. After all, here was this cocky musician declaring that his EP only represented a small fraction of his talent and dismissing all the original tracks that made him so famous (with the exception of Sleepyhead) in order to create an LP of completely original songs. And only now, after a couple of full listen throughs of this album, am I in a position to fully comment on how successful he has been.

The album opens up with a punchy number in Make Light. This is the perfect opening track for this album, brimming with such infectious enthusiasm that it's hard not to get caught up in it.

And it is this sentiment which perfectly sums up the album and Passion Pit as a band, full of energy and positivity that it gets you hyped up like some wonderful and melodic drug. However whereas Chunk of Change was all about pure fun, Manners delves deeper into the music and achieves something that is equally as catchy, but with far more substance.

The second track, Little Secrets continues in a similar fashion, adding in a children's chorus and some hard synths to shake things up. It's another very good track, but at this point I have to admit I was wondering whether I had the constitution to get through eleven tracks of such sugary joy.

Moth's Wings was the key point of this album for me, and in my opinion the best song on the album. This third track was the game changer, the song that told me that Passion Pit were more than just a one dimensional fad, and could make music without falsettos and heart pumping beats. This song is slow and beautiful, choosing to build and develop a melody rather than just overwhelm the listener with bouncy synth and giddy pop. Epic.

The Reeling, the fourth track on the album reigns it back in a little bit, sounding like a neon soaked night on the town. Confident bass and 80s style synth peppers this track and sets the pace well for the rest of the album. Or at least the next song, To Kingdom Come, which ambles along with a soulful melody without ever reaching for the glittering heights of other songs. It says much about the album that this lovely song is one of the weaker efforts on the album.

Next we have Swimming in the Flood, a song which carries the feeling of the end of the evening, or at least that slow dance song that inevitably gets put on by the DJ at like 2am. After so much heart pounding excitement, it almost comes as a break to let yourself lull along with something a bit more laid back.

Fold In Your Hands starts off with a bit of a mellow funk, before hitting a euphoric wall of sound. It's a decent track but in my opinion one of the weaker ones on the album. Eyes as Candles meanwhile, is one of my favorite songs on the album. It begins with a sweet twilit melody, which slowly builds into a pumped up chorus that hits just the right spot.

Next comes the first single Sleepyhead that we all know and love, a trippy, powerful and completely unique hit of a song. This is followed by probably their simplest and least computerized track on the album, Let Your Love Grow Tall, which begins softly enough before building to an absolutely epic conclusion. It sounds a bit more old school than the rest of the album, evoking memories of various folk rock bands from the sixties and seventies... except with awesome electronic funk backing the more epic moments.

Then an album with the perfect opening track and a whole lot of kick ass tunes in between finishes with the perfect closer. Seaweed Song is soft and soulful, and almost makes you feel mournful at the end of a great album, evocative of feelings the morning after a great night out or a great party, feeling kinda bummed that life has to go on after that... but in a good way.

The only criticism I might make is that the falsetto and sugary pop might get old after a while, I hope they decide to mix things up a little bit for their next album, and after listening to Moth's Wings I have no doubt that they are capable of doing so.

This is an excellent album, and I don't think it's going too far to say that it is the best album of the year so far. And in the end, it's not just that this is a good debut album. It's that this album sounds so finely polished, like the work of a man who has honed his art over a much longer amount of time.

EDIT: There has been some confusion on which track is which between 'eyes as candles' and 'to kingdom come', this has now been corrected. 'Eyes as candles' is the better one.

Must Listen:
Moth's Wings

Eyes As Candles

Let Your Love Grow Tall

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