by Kemp Baldwin
A Captain’s Log of Passion Pit’s Record Release on the Hudson River:
20:00 A hoard of music lovers come aboard the Temptress at 41st. The skies are starting to give way to pastels. The air is crisp. These folks aren’t dressed appropriately for the high seas. I believe they are more concerned with this record release party of this licentiously named band. Ahoy!
20:20 Yes, yes you’re on a boat young man with the sunglasses on. I’d prefer you call it a yacht or a ship. Show some respect. You are also on a boat girl with hot pink keffiyeh. Stop stating the obvious and enjoy the sunset while readying yourselves for the Passion Pit – that’s euphemism for something untoward, right? – and the motion of the ocean – that is not a euphemism for something in this case. We cast off our lines and embark on a three-hour tour.
20:21 Acapella group of douchebags did not take heed of my request to stop stating the obvious ad nauseum. Some tipsy underage girls are finding them attractive and amusing. I’m about to turn this boat around.
20:22 I’ve been informed by my first mate that this, “I’m on a boat motherfucker,” is taken from an unimaginative satirical digital short featuring T-Pain. At this point, I’d like to amend the axiom “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” to include that uninspired imitation is the quickest way to get kicked off a boat.
21:45 New Jersey skyline is truly a sight to be seen after the sun sets.
22:00 There she is, Lady Liberty. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Oh, how those words sing to me. When is this band going on?
22:05 By the sound of squeals and dude-whoops, I assume Passion Pit has trotted into the main cabin to the delight of the passengers. I put the boat on inflatable autopilot and go take a gander. I can’t see anything. Too many screaming girls and pushy boyfriends.
22:06 They launch into “Better Things,” a breezy squeak-funk burst off their blog-lauded EP Chunk of Change, which the lead falsettoer and bandleader Michael Angelakos wrote and recorded pretty much alone as a valentine to his then girlfriend. The EP is a gem – a small dance-pop record, written without pretense, that’s full of ambition and promise. I listen to it when the seas are rough and I need to put a smile on my face to weather storm and shake my ass. Captain boogie.
22:11 Somehow all these kids know the lyrics to a song off the band’s new album, Manners, which dropped today. I smell something fishy. Pirating or the Hudson? Unfortunately, this “Make Light,” song isn’t as good as even the worst song on the EP. I think they’re trying too hard. The audience is trying way too hard. I need some air, maybe just a better view. These kids don’t respect the Captain.
22:40 These guys really like their keyboards. Right now three of them are playing some black and white keys while the drummer, donning headphones, bangs out beats that sound like a poor-man’s Phil Collins. The crowd loves it but there are certainly some flat spots ringing loudly in these new tunes. First Mate agrees. He alerts me of a warning from the Coast Guard, but I notice a cute passenger. I try to embrace the music and woe her with my Captain’s hat.
22:50 She wasn’t that cute anyway. Weather Advisory from the Coast Guard reads: Beware of backlash. Passion Pit is destined to break big like MGMT with six or seven really good songs – promising something great – while the rest of their catalog is nearly unpalatable fluff rushed out the door by an overly eager label. Sure, they’ll be able to weather the storms of blog bashing to find a loving audience. But they’ll need their ambitions tempered so they can rediscover the sound they stumbled upon in the EP to really set sail on their next release.
22:51 The Coast Guard is really astute. This song sounds awful but the crowd is lapping it up.
23:00 Oh my god, Sleepyhead! The crowd goes wild. Bad dancing. Good dancing. Captain dancing! We rock the boat. It’s a perfect moment – the New York Skyline giving a standing ovation in the background to a perfect little dance tune and its followers.
23:10 Encore. It’s Angelakos’ birthday. How fitting. His band and lady friends bring out cake. Crowd sings happy birthday. They rub cake in his face and play two pretty mediocre songs. I walk back to the helm a bit disappointed until they start playing Montel Jordan over the PA. “This is how we do it.” This song always helps me bring the ship to dock safely.
23:11 The goddamn kids are back talking about how they’re on a fucking boat. Give it a rest.