Levi’s® Pioneer Sessions: Passion Pit (art)

Michael Angelakos presumably went into college in Boston to acquire knowledge but he came out of it with the beginnings of a music career. The singer/keyboardist recorded four songs alone in a dorm room for his girlfriend, which would eventually become the basis for Chunk of Change, an EP he’d make with some other Boston musicians under the name Passion Pit. The band quickly developed its sonic identity: Angelakos’ high, high voice singing big pop hooks in an electronic world of bleeps, blips and whirrs. That was the approach on “Sleepyhead,” an arresting and original single that started to draw national attention for the group. The group followed with their debut album Manners last year. It was showered with praise and songs were plucked for prime TV shows, resulting in the album’s critical and commercial success.

Angelakos says he was listening to a lot of “softer rock” when he first heard the sweeping Smashing Pumpkins song “Tonight, Tonight,” which was a Top 40 hit for the guitar-driven band in 1996. Main Pumpkin Billy Corgan started his band in the late-’80s in Chicago. By 1991 the group was in the middle of an alternative rock movement based on the buzzing sound and disillusioned spirit of its debut Gish. The band enjoyed further success two years later with Siamese Dream, which then led to its double-album opus Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which yielded four chart hits. Among them was “Tonight, Tonight,” a song that paired Pumpkins trademarks – Corgan’s high wounded voice, a quiet/loud dynamic – in a dramatic setting replete with stings.
Passion Pit’s re-crafting of the song strips away some of the ambitious bombast, losing the strings but none of the business. Angelakos’ high voice fits comfortably with Corgan’s lyrics, but instead of a piece of grandiose rock, he’s instead created a synthy underwater symphony.
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