Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos has come a long way since Chunk of Change. The EP that he had made originally for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day serves as an “indietronica” relic for fans everywhere. The EP did a fantastic job of highlighting Angelakos’s coy, yet clever lyrical wordplay, while also letting him show off his undeniable vocal talent as a falsetto.
It’s been 7 years since that classic was born, and since then, Passion Pit has released some singles, a cover or two, and two amazing albums that found mainstream success, particularlyManners, which had crossover hits like “Sleepyhead” and “Moth’s Wings”. Between Manners and Gossamer, Passion Pit had tangible proof that they had both achieved indie success and officially broken into the mainstream, even being featured in fast food and credit card commercials. The only thing that every indie band has that Passion Pit doesn’t is a tacky car commercial.Seriously, it’s quite overwhelming.
But with great success comes great expectations for future endeavors. Fans still love hearing Angelakos’ falsetto voice and insightfully simple lyrics, all wrapped up in quick, quirky electronic three-minute songs. It’s tough though, because artists are allowed, and often encouraged, to mature and change their sound as they progress in their careers. But the caveat is that Passion Pit has already found a recipe for success; with Kindred, the band seems to have added too much sugar and spice to the dish.
The problem with Kindred is that it seems to be a bit “too much”. Something about the overwhelmingly digitization of the music prevalent throughout the entire album —with the best examples being “My Brother Taught me How To Swim” and “Whole Life Story” — really overwhelms the listener with techno-quirkiness. It’s digitized for the sake of being digitized, without really contributing to the music. For the first time in Passion Pit history, Angelakos even auto-tuned his voice for the final song on the album, “Ten Feet Tall (II)”. It’s a disservice to the lyrical brevity thatis Passion Pit. The song itself is catchy, with crashing symbols and flashy synth, but the clever lyrics about remaining brave in the face of adversity are just soiled with this watered down auto-tune.
This is really frustrating. Angelakos has been quite open with hisstruggle with bi-polar disorder, and many of the songs on this album reflect this condition, often in metaphysically intriguing ways. Hits like “Lifted Up (1985) and “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” are done justice with Angelakos’ clever lyrics (depressive) but are then thrown into confusion with joyous, overly happy and tacky hooks (manic). Sure, it’s clever, but that doesn’t make it musically appealing. There has to be a better way to capture this complex and serious dynamic, and Passion Pit’s execution of it doesn’t really do that.
The album reminds me of being lectured by my parents as a little kid. The worst feeling isn’t when your parents say they’re “mad” at you, because it’s easy to mentally disenfranchise them as people who just don’t understand. But when your parents say they’re “disappointed” in you, you get that awful, gut wrenching feeling. Passion Pit has, justifiably, won their way into the heart of indie, electronic, and mainstream music lovers alike. However, withKindred, they’ve released an album that’s not “bad” per se; on the surface, everything about the album is inherently good. It’s disappointing by trying too hard, and subsequently, ineffectively blending all the parts and pieces that would, hypothetically, make for a great album.
Lifted Up (1985) - C
Whole Life Story - D
Where The Sky Hangs - B
All I Want - C
Five Foot Ten (I) - C
Dancing on the Grave - B
Until We Can’t (Let’s Go) – C
Looks Like Rain - B
My Brother Taught Me How to Swim - D
Ten Feet Tall (II) – C
Overall GPA: 2.1
- Zachary Lee
This article was originally published online at the Swamp Records blog.