Erin Passmore: Downtown EP

Erin Passmore, Downtown, rah rahErin Passmore: Downtown EP
In the bio of Erin Passmore‘s only sparsely-followed Twitter page, it states that she “writes songs and sings them sometimes!” Despite Passmore’s starkly literal description, her debut EP, Downtown, is a surprisingly eclectic debut, dipping into a diverse range of styles and sounds. Passmore, the drummer of the Canadian indie rock outfit Rah Rah, is a product of the high-quality Canadian indie rock scene. She walks a fine line between paying homage and resisting the tried-and-true influences of that region’s indie rock history as well as the popular female vocal styles of artists like Feist and Regina Spektor. At times she gives into these influences. Other times she appears to make a conscious decision to make something new and distinct. Yet this pick-and-choose stylistic mentality would seem less uneven if it was just a bit more exciting.
While Passmore chooses to go in a host of directions on her eight-song EP, she doesn’t take any chances until the fourth song. After a spat of forgettable, poorly-written tracks comes “Rock the Boat.” Passmore gives a welcome interlude of soul, after a trio of unidentifiable pop songs. Passmore defines a unique voice that sadly is lost throughtout the remainder of the album. She leaves you longing for an album full of this slower, more controlled and precise music. On the next track, “Monster,” Passmore creates the first and only truly catchy pop song of the album. The likable hooks on this track hearken back to another group of talented Canadians, Metric, as well as maybe a dash of Stars. On “Fall,” Passmore has her “token Starbucks female vocalist”-moment, a look that doesn’t fit her too well.
As a new artist, she attempts to elevate the small EP by upping the tempo and trying to unnecessarily infuse the album with a bigger rock sound. This strategy is rarely successful. For every pleasant track like “Captain,” there’s a confusing track like “Sad Song” that throws off the balance of the album. “Captain,” the album’s rousing closer, Passmore once again showcases her impressive vocal skills yet the nature of the song continues to demand the question of who Erin Passmore really is. There are certainly moments of admirable, even inspired, experimentation and composition. It can’t help but feel like a battle of three or four competing albums. None of these “albums” are terrible, they simply make a eight-song EP seem awfully crowded and uneven.
Rating: 5.9/10
MP3: Erin Passmore “Rock the Boat”
Buy: iTunes

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