by Al Kaufman
The thing that set New Order (and their predecessor, the even more dour Joy Division) apart from all the other synth-rock bands of the eighties was their passion. There was substance behind their sound. There was raw emotion.
Michael Angelakos has tapped into that same passion-synth sound on his band, Passion Pit's, debut EP, Chunk of Change. He really had no choice; Chunk of Change was a belated Valentine's Day present for his girlfriend. He started selling copies of it at shows until buzz spread. The band won best new local act in the 2008 WFNX/Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll and opened for Death Cab for Cutie. They were eventually signed by Frenchkiss.
Chunk of Change opens with "I've Got Your Number," which should satisfy the hunger of of all the fans still depressed over the latest break-up of New Order, just as long as they can overcome the incessant blips and beeps. Angelakos's vocals are the result of if New Order's Bernard Sumner and Kate Bush combined vocal chords. He can caterwaul with the best of them. The song is a glorious six minutes of sounds and rhythms.
This being a love letter, songs sometimes get a little too cutesy. The title is all you need to know about "Cuddle Fuddle" to know that diabetics should remain out of hearing distance.
The EP's final two cuts are additions to the the original Valentine. "Better Things" is the most Kate Bush-y and is loaded with great hooks. "Sleepyhead," the first single, and the song that has been getting the most ink, is probably the most soulless on the EP. It is anchored by a fun, rubbery synth riff, but has little else to offer. Hopefully, this will not be the direction Angelakos and friends will take when they release their first full-length early next year, for the remainder of the EP holds so much promise.