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Passion Pit: The Lyrics Decoded

Perhaps you’ve heard about the Boston electro-pop quintet Passion Pit’s backstory: Two years ago, falsetto voiced frontman Michael Angelakos – then just a dude making tunes by himself in his bedroom – wrote a batch of fizzy love songs to give to his girlfriend as a Valentine’s Day present (which is probably more thoughtful and labor-intensive than making some dumb mix CD, but still pretty damn tweemo). Those songs ended up as last year’s Chunk of Change EP, which promptly turned Passion Pit into a buzz band of Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors proportions.

But it seems Angelakos’ feelings are completely the opposite on Passion Pit’s full-length debut, Manners, which came out earlier this year. While his lyrics can certainly be cryptic, close critical analysis of the singer’s words reveals an exceptionally bitter outlook aimed, perhaps, at the same girl. Let’s look at a few songs:

“Make Light”
What he sings: “Yes, I lie and I wrangle with prospective angles/That glare me down and face me with all I do wrong.”
What he means: “Since I became an indie-pop sensation, I’ve been cheating on you like crazy. Remember when I called you from Tallahassee and told you I was at Taco Bell with the guys after the show? I was actually in an orgy with two-dozen groupies at the Holiday Inn. Sure, I feel guilty, but I figured I’d better put this out there in the first song so you know what to expect the rest of the way.”

“Little Secrets”
What he sings: “Oh have you ever felt so goddamn strong?/How come it takes some people so damn long/He tried to squeeze the lemon juice to rain/The citrus drawing out the season’s stains.”
What he means: “I couldn’t get any tail for the longest time, but now that I’m a Pitchfork darling, I have to beat the ladies off with sticks. Of course, I didn’t know how I would get all the lipstick smears and pussy juice off my boxers before I came back home to you after the tour, but I looked online and it said that a spritz of lemon can do the trick.”

“The Reeling”
What he sings: “I believe in gentle harmony/Well how I loathe all this obscenity/Is this the way my life has got to be?”
What he means: “All I want to do when I get home is sit on the couch, smoke a bowl, and watch the Cash Cab marathon with you, but you gotta keep calling me a lazy, emotionally distant motherfucker with a voice like a helium-sucking dolphin. I don’t need this shit.”

“Folds in Your Hands”
What he sings: “Like the sun and the moon I will circle you ’til you bloom/I will crush our love, let it burn until I get to you.”
What he means: “I heard you’ve been cheating on me with that bartender dude, so I’m going to stalk you day and night until I catch you guys screwing in the back of his Prius, and then I’m gonna set his car on fire.”

“To Kingdom Come”
What he sings: “You dared me in the dark/I felt a hush fall quietly from my spark/So now I hide in piles of princely orange peels/It feels the way you told me how it always feels.”
What he means: “I always thought your sexual fetishes were pretty weird, but I played along anyway, and now I can’t get off unless there’s several crates of citrus fruit involved. Thanks a lot.”

What he sings: “My beard grew down to the floor/And out through the doors.”
What he means: “Yeah, I know this song was on Chunk of Change, and back then it was about how I grew a hipster beard so you’d be more attracted to me. But I’ve repurposed it, and now it’s about how I fantasized about growing my facial hair long enough to lower myself down from our three-story apartment in the middle of the night to get away from you, like an inmate saving up his bedsheets to escape from prison.

“Seaweed Song”
What he sings: “The currents pull me in/The tide has reached my chin/The seaweed tickles skin/Just let the water win.”
What he means: “I’d really rather drown than spend one more goddamn minute with you.”

Sun., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m., 2009


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