Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Record Store Day (RSD) has become an audiophile’s Christmas since its inception in 2008, celebrating independently owned record stores with exclusive titles and limited-edition releases from everyone from The Beatles to Arcade Fire.
If Body Language breaks out like it has the potential to, the
Brooklyn-based four piece surely would owe a heavy debt to Passion Pit;
it’s a similar formula with the twist of adding a female vocalist …
although that feels but a step removed from Michael Angelakos’ signature
At the same time, the band shines in its own unique ways, taking an artier approach to crafting equally catchy tracks and spinning out more funky moments. Indeed, Body Language’s debut record, “Social Studies,” digs further than “Manners” ever did, pulling from a deeper well of electronic and house authorities in creating a proper debut that feels appropriately studious.
By studious, I don’t mean heady. This album is directed right at your hips and nowhere else, although when the groove proves exhausting there is plenty for your head and heart to enjoy as well.
The title track starts with a bubbly synth ring and delicate chimes that paint a picture of falling in love on the playground before the following “Tempoture” blasts you straight forward into the present with a layered but spacious wash of squiggles, drums and piano.
The leadoff single, “You Can,” dips and dives through a half-dozen showcase moments, highlighting handclaps, reverb synthesizers and Matt Young and Angelica Bess’ shared vocal duties. Even the more subdued, saddened moments in songs like “Falling Out” have more than enough zip to have you nodding your head; it feels entirely too easy when the group switches from the sorrowful chorus to the burning discothèque bridge.
The anthems don’t stop coming, whether it’s the angelic “Running” or spicy “Holiday,” the band never lets off the pedal. Most remarkable, no moment feels cheesy or gimmicky (at least not past a pleasurable level), and the refined “Social Studies” shows a band ready to do things. It’s more than enough to warrant Passion Pit keeping an eye on their backs, as the student — who actually helped produce some of the tracks offs “Manners” — seems primed to surpass its teacher.