If Kanye West and Kool and the Gang made an album with Death Cab for Cutie, it would sound like Passion Pit. The vocals on the band's EP, Chunk of Change, were more straightforward, and singer Michael Angelakos had a warmer style. That's not the case on their first full-length, Manners. His falsetto combines with children's choruses to create saccharine pop music, while the harmonized, higher-pitched singing comes off colder and more mechanical. Manners drips with sugary, upbeat synths that give it the retro feel of an '80s dance party. The lyrics on Manners are alternately intricate and simplistic. Lines like "They couldn't think of something to say the day you burst/With all their lions and all their might and all their thirst" are beautifully crafted. But confusion follows as Angelakos sings, "Nobody knows you the way you know you/but I think I do/Yeah, I thought I knew." Angelakos' bio maintains that he has more on his mind than "girls, girls, girls," but still we're inundated with love themes. If there are deeper issues, you have to wade through thick syrup to find them. And since the songs were a Valentine's gift for a girlfriend, it's not like there's a lot of deep thinking going on here. — Liss Vickery
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