Damn you, Ben Gibbard, you're fucking up indie rock. Not by virtue of anything you've done yourself, mind you. Death Cab for Cutie is fantastic, The Postal Service's lone album is one of the best of the decade. The problem, which I'm far from the first to recognize but can't possibly ignore in reviewing last night's sold-out Passion Pit show at The Clubhouse, is that you left the door open for way too many imitators.
Obviously, as so many have noted, Owl City and their monster smash "Fireflies" bear Gibbard's mark, but there's also Passion Pit, the Boston five piece that sent a Tempe crowd in to a frenzy of bopping, shimmying and shaking with a heavily playback-reliant version of their song "Little Secrets" last night.
Look, I have nothing against ambiant songs that could pass for a the subtlest of movie score music without the omniprescent and totally dominating synth line. I also have nothing against Gibbard's high-pitched and endearingly fey voice. But if you're going to create such a Siren sound, you need to finish things with a follow-up record or two and a tour. It's borderline irresponsible to develop such an intoxicating brew of dance-demanding drum machines, 80s synthesizers and emotionally overwrought vocals then leave its development to a guy like Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos, who played with the sound to make a Valentine's Day gift for his girlfriend and has now left the rest of us with no choice but to take our girlfriends to see his band sing "Folds In Your Hands." Angelakos is like a cartoon version of Gibbard, down to his even more Gibbardy voice, which one of our freelancers compared to a "helium-sucking dolphin."
It's not so terrible, really. Passion Pit, for all their obvious extrapolation of the Postal Service sound, combined with a little Hot Chip danciness, did a pretty damn good job last night, sounding very polished for a band that's bringing more than just a bass, drums and a couple guitars to medium-sized clubs like this, which is always a mess waiting to happen. I could definitely see the band continuing their upward trajectory to small amphitheaters by next summer, then who knows what. Still, as great as Passion Pit's one post-encore break offering, their single, "The Reeling" ("Thanks for putting up with us," Angelakos said with faux-modesty before playing the song), sounded last night, I'm left wishing Gibbard would have finished what he started.
Last Night: Passion Pit at The Clubhouse
Personal Bias: None, really, aside from the extreme feeling of deja vu I got at moments.
Better Than: The UPS video featuring "Such Great Heights."
Further Listening: "Cuddle Fuddle," my girlfriend's favorite song, which the band didn't play.