posted on Jul.23, 2012
Hailing From: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Release Number: 2nd
Genre: Dance Electropop
Label: Columbia/Frenchkiss Records
It’s been three years since Passion Pit released their highly acclaimed, full length debut Manners. Their tracks were used in everything from cell phone commercials to television shows. Now they are back with Gossamer, a slightly more mature and sadder take on the same style its predecessor embodied. It is these qualities which, although they bring the overall feel in a slightly different direction, make Gossamer the stronger album of the two. In fact, a look into lead singer Michael Angelakos’ life makes their accomplishment with their sophomore album that much more impressive.
To put it lightly, life hasn’t been a cakewalk for Passion Pit front man Michael Angelakos over the past few years. The singer and musical mastermind suffers from bipolar disorder. He has been in and out of mental health facilities, dealt with suicide attempts, and irregular behavior that makes is hard to create a well-worked album. In addition, it can’t be easy for the other band members and producers to work with this lifestyle. Although it is important sometimes to avoid superfluous information, in this situation, Angelakos’ condition and struggles directly affect the musical and lyrical aspects of this new album. If nothing else, this insight makes us take a more serious look at his lyrics, both past and present.
The album opens with one of its first prerelease singles “Take a Walk” which has an extremely catchy sound to it. The song lyrically discusses how when you have to deal with the mundane struggles of life and the challenges it brings, sometimes a simple escape is necessary. The words are reminiscent to the adulthood themes that Arcade Fire’s Suburbs album discusses at great length.
The album continues on with quite a few songs that reference Angelakos’ need to move forward and pull through his mental illness struggles. “I’ll Be Alright” is more upbeat, reassuring those he loves that he can manage and doesn’t want them to make huge sacrifices on his behalf. “Hideaway” also has hints of struggle and escape from trials. “On My Way” is one of the most endearing tracks on the album, as it directly addresses Angelakos’ fiancé. He sings “Oh, God, Kristina, don’t once think that this madness is my fault alone” and later “Just believe in me, Kristina/All these demons, I can beat them.” It’s clear that Michael Angelakos’ disorder has taken a toll on the ones he loves, as he promises that in the future he will be stronger than his illness. Album closers “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” and “Where We Belong” work to the same effect, as they wind the collection down in a serious, yet beautifully creative way.
This isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have the same fun feel that Passion Pit has brought in the past. “Carried Away” is a happy sounding electropop track that is definitely danceable. In reality, all of the songs have a great use of synths, Angelakos’ four octave spanning voice, and well-designed beats. There is a great play on the juxtaposition between the seriousness of the lyrics and lightheartedness of the sound. This quality makes each song as enjoyable as the last.
In the end, Passion Pit’s sophomore effort is emotionally heavier than Manners. Without the context of his condition, about which Angelakos has revealed in a few interviews, Gossamer is yet another artistically crafted dance pop album from those who brought us “Sleepyhead” and “Little Secrets”.
-Heather Koenig, Assistant Music Director