Friday, December 12, 2008

Passion Pit, "Better Things" (#19)

"Better Things"
(Michael Angelakos)
Passion Pit
Chunk of Change

Plenty of skinny white indie kids have tried to do soul music in the last ten years or so, and big news: Most of them fail. For the most part they come off too arch, too removed. You can't sing soul and stand back; you have to let go of your self-consciousness, your "cool."

It may be the origins of Chunk of Change that allows Michael Angelakos' Passion Pit to escape this curse. He recorded the six-song EP as a Valentine's Day present for his girlfriend, with--we're told--little to no intention of the rest of us hearing it. But you can't keep secrets in an electronic age, and the disc passed from person to person until it finally landed at Frenchkiss records, who sent it out to the rest of us.

So "Better Things" ends up sounding personal (Angelakos is fully committed here) but also corporate--you could easily hear Prince covering this song twenty years ago and making it into a smash hit. The music is the glorious mess of Around the World in a Day, while the vocals sound like the helium-high "Camille" sections of Sign 'o' the Times.

All in all it's an ode to pure joy, one of the few indie funk songs I'd be happy sticking next to the best the '70s and '80s have to offer.

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