Album Reviews

Passion Pit – Chunk Of Change EP

(Columbia) UK release date: 16 February 2009

The story behind Chunk Of Change, the debut EP by Passion Pit, is slight, but cute: with Valentine’s Day looming, Michael Angelakos decided to give his girlfriend an EP of his self-composed songs instead of a box of chocolates.� And the opening paragraph of a press release was thus born.�

With that in mind, you’d be forgiven for expecting the EP to be full of emotive, James Blunt-style balladry.� Not so.� Instead, Chunk Of Change comprises six tracks of peppy electro pop similar that produced by The Postal Service, Hot Chip and Junior Boys.

The main problem with Chunk Of Change is that, unlike the acts whose music it recalls, the composite sounds rarely coalesce into anything cohesive.� A track like Smile Upon Me starts promisingly enough with ravey synth blasts oscillating between the speakers and a pulsing bass driving things along, but finishes four minutes later with a great deal of energy expended yet little impression left.

That’s not to say anything here is actively bad, but most of the songs would have benefited from just a little bit more craft: listening to Chunk Of Change is rather like looking at a picture frame that’s slightly askew.

Angelakos’s vocals are also problematic.� They range from Ben Gibbard-esque politeness (nice) to histrionic, speaker-troubling screechiness (less nice).� It’s as if he’s striving for the emotive grandeur of The Associates‘ Billy Mackenzie but without the vocal chops to achieve it.

Don’t write off Passion Pit completely, though.� It bodes well for the future that the EP’s two strongest tracks are also the most recent.� Better Things benefits from something that’s in scant supply on the rest of the EP, namely a strong, insistent chorus. Sleepyhead, meanwhile, is the best thing here by some distance.� It boasts both the EP’s strongest, strangest production (a mangled sample of what seems to be some Japanese folk music), as well as Angelakos’s most powerful and affecting melody to date.

Overall then, Chunk Of Change is several steps short of greatness, but the debut full-length (due later this year) should be worth a listen.�� Any romancers considering buying it as a Valentine’s gift would, however, be best advised to opt for a candlelit meal instead.

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