The Omnivore: Musical Exchange Program

There’s a scrappy indie-pop band that’s taking the British music scene by storm. It’s Passion Pit, a quirky quintet that the BBC praised as one of the top acts of 2009. London’s venerable New Musical Express called Passion Pit’s show "pure geek-soul bliss," Columbia Records U.K. signed them almost instantly, and by the time their first full-length album, Manners, comes out this month (5/19), they will have toured the country not once but twice. Not too shabby for a group from Cambridge—the one across the Charles, not the Atlantic.

Given the band’s prodigious gifts, it’s disappointing that their giddy, swirling electro-pop has remained little celebrated locally beyond the blogosphere and a few keen indie-scene observers. Disappointing, but predictable: U.S. music fans have long been suckers for British approbation of new talent, from Iggy Pop to the Strokes. This accounts for why the Boston-bred Pixies and Throwing Muses made it big stateside only after the Brits had sounded the all-clear. What gives? Put plainly, the U.K. music press, by focusing on innovative sounds rather than chart positions (unlike our own celebrity-driven pop journalism), is adept at generating buzz without sapping the hipness factor. The resulting cachet, in turn, is noticed by the U.S. taste-makers responsible for placing songs into heavy rotation.

Will we Bostonians, who like to think we can make up our own minds, ever break the cycle? Maybe someday. But until then, just thank the Limeys for selling us on the latest great band from our backyard.