Boston's Passion Pit is the brainchild of Michael Angelakos. A songwriter's songwriter drawing from a variety of influences, from the classic pop of Randy Newman to the synth work of Giorgio Moroder. The Chunk of Change EP was originally put together as a (belated) Valentine's Day present to Angelakos girlfriend which then prompted him to give it out to friends and fellow students at Emerson College. Angelakos wrote and recorded the entire record by himself and it only hints at what is to come from this extremely talented perfectionist. The production of the recording - brief, sporadic, and explosive - worked towards the development of Angelakos signature euphoric and blissfully melancholic sound. Frenchkiss Records will reissue the ep this fall with the addition of two bonus tracks Better Things and Sleepyhead that are already catching the online world on fire. All of this is in preparation for Passion Pit s debut full length coming out in early 2009. Playing as a five piece live, Passion Pit has already blown away audiences opening up for Death Cab For Cutie, Girl Talk, These New Puritans and more. Also winning the WFNX/Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll as the Best New Local Act of 2008, Passion Pit hopes to bring their soulful dance explosion to your town this fall.
It's a backstory you couldn't possibly escape: This past Valentine's Day, Michael Angelakos opted out of throwing down the coin for some chocolates, teddy bears, or a copy of Love Actually. A little on the late side, he instead recorded for his girlfriend the lion's share of the lap-pop serenade, Chunk of Change. Friends were excited by what they heard, a band was born, a record deal signed.
Defined as much by its lyrical prism and Angelakos' falsetto (more on that later) as its gooey textures, Chunk of Change walks the line between beat-driven, Hot Chip floor geeking and twee atmospherics. And while he gave his band the name of a 1980s skin flick, Angelakos' production mirrors the more cuddly bent that sparked the project: synths are Downy-soft, blankets of melodic skin that expand alongside their oversized choruses. More significantly, it suggests a certain level of un-self-conscious pop versatility. You can gyrate. You can navelgaze. You can shiver. You can cringe.
It's a sonic ethos that fits much of Angelakos' lyrical Lloyd Dobler-ing well. Opener "I've Got Your Number" is a clear standout, its synthetic handclaps and high frequency whirring offer a prime framework for introducing the dude's voice and poetry. Depending on your emotional constitution or complexion, the latter can be, understandably, something of a turn-off. As is the case with the less propulsive material here, most time is spent nose-to-nose with turns like "Have you seen me cry tears like diamonds? Down and down they fly, faster and faster," or "Whatever happens to you, whatever happens to me, I hope that I'll fall asleep knowing that you'll always be the story with no ending." But you can't fault a guy for loving someone his way. Given the notion that Angelakos initially expected just one person to really listen, the record benefits heavily from that which a lot of us look for in sound or elsewhere: emotional authenticity.
If anything, the EP's major flaw is also a gamebreaker. Angelakos' falsetto flirts dangerously with histrionics at times, the breathy swings of "Cuddle Fuddle" or forgettable disco-pop of "Better Things" are two examples of his pipes at their most distracting. He can veer way off course for sure, but when matching the movement and mood of his own textures, his exuberance can be narcotic. "Sleepyhead" is the one addition not included on the original mixtape and it hints at savvier, more muscular vibrations coming down the pipeline (a full-length is slated for early 2009). Also the EP's shortest and most infectious moment, it's a tipsy, bass-heavy Cristal bath with the likes of Mannheim Steamroller and Ginuwine. I think it's about a girl.
— David Bevan, November 5, 2008