It's not entirely Passion Pit's fault. The comparisons to last year's hipster band, Vampire Weekend, just kind of write themselves. Consider: Both bands are straight-outta-the-J. Crew-catalogue upstarts who have fashioned sharp, pleasure-filled debuts out of the most unpromising of source materials. For Vampire Weekend, it's a fusion of world music, pop and Peter Gabriel; for Passion Pit, it's uncool '80s new wave, the Beach Boys and, well, Vampire Weekend.
And like Vampire Weekend's breakthrough album, Passion Pit's full-length debut, "Manners," is giddy, melodic, practically filler-free, and overhyped before it arrived.
The album's chirpy vocals, cheery synths and unending stream of uptempo, not-quite-club/not-quite-bedroom electro-pop tracks mask deeper miseries; almost all of "Manners" sounds happier than it actually is. Michael Angelakos employs an acquired-taste falsetto virtually throughout, which is why "Manners" sounds like it's being sung by a pretty girl who really loves ancient video-game soundtracks and Animal Collective.
His voice is put to best use on the rubbery, sublimely dorky love ballad "Sleepyhead," while the mostly falsetto-free "Moth's Wings" is pure, soaring pop. Plucky and unearthly "Little Secrets" is one of a handful of tracks that use a children's chorus, almost suggesting a collaboration between MGMT, Bananarama and the tots from "Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice."
-- Allison Stewart, May 2009