Review : Passion Pit - Gossamer
PitchforkHere's an incomplete list of the subjects dealt with on Passion Pit's second album, Gossamer: immigration, alcoholism, economic disparity, suicide, mental illness, drugs, domestic abuse. So when Michael Angelakos sings, "I'm so self-loathing that it's hard for me to see," that should come across like a tremendous understatement. But two lines later, he cries "no one believes me, no not a single thing." That part cuts deep, since Passion Pit's 2009 debut LP, Manners, was an often dark and troubled record a lot of people chose not to take seriously due to its sugar-smacked synth pop and countless product placements. So it's no wonder that Angelakos' next words are "my brain is racing and I'll feel like I'll explode!" Three difficult years in the making, Gossamer is an overwhelming album about being overwhelmed, a bold and ultimately stunning torrent of maximalist musical ideas, repressed anger, and unchecked anxiety.
Perhaps it's fitting that Gossamer, so focused on failure and human frailty, should begin with a stumble. "Take a Walk" is a fairly by-the-numbers Passion Pit song. Nonetheless, there's a strange imbalance to it. The massed chorus of chipper vocals and the stoic, pavement-pounding verse feel mismatched. And while Angelakos' literal account of the financial troubles facing his Greek immigrant relatives is gut-wrenching and brave, it amounts to a curious fit on an album that's otherwise entirely personal. As a one-off, it would be an intriguing character study. As the leadoff track on Gossamer, it feels misplaced.
Luckily, "I'll Be Alright" doesn't allow much time for the disappointment to register. The joy-buzzer synths and Angelakos' falsetto scan as instant-gratification Passion Pit, but on both a musical and lyrical level, it's a raising of the bar, far more complex than anything the band has done to date. Consider the combination of its surging chorus and the synapse-frying barrage of microscopic jumpcuts, and you might have the weirdest and catchiest band on Warp, and the most dejected if you're really paying attention. The first line of "I'll Be Alright" could be a retroactive assessment on the day-glo Manners, asking "Can you remember ever having any fun?/ Cause when it's all said and done/ I always believed we were/ But now I'm not so sure." The effect is initially disorienting and uncomfortable: Do you escape into the comforts of the music or give into the lurid thrill of confrontation?...full text
PrettymuchamazingEarlier this week, Passion Pitís Michael Angelakos revealed, in a Pitchfork cover story, that he has been struggling with bipolar disorder since the age of 18. The piece, which goes into great detail about Angelakosí ongoing battle with the disorder Ė a battle that seems to have intensified in the wake of Passion Pitís abrupt entrance into the spotlight Ė sheds light on the bandís recent show cancelations and Angelakosí promise to ďwork on improving my mental health.Ē It also, to a large degree, presents better context in which to understand Passion Pitís music ó shimmering and manic but pegged to a dark underside.
Gossamer, Passion Pitís second full-length release, comes nearly three years after the bandís debut album, Manners, which itself dropped almost a year after Angelakosí Valentineís Day demos caught the attention of music blogs and major labels in 2008. The gestation period, long by todayís publish-or-perish standards, belies a record that wasnít easy for Angelakos to make. Itís not the easiest to listen to, either. Dark topics and production difficulties slam against Passion Pitís glittery sound to create an album that, while peppered with catchy melodies, is overstuffed and under-edited. Gossamer is a tortured beast, disguised in a crunchy candy shell....full text
GuardianIf cyber-chatter translated into record sales, Massachusetts five-piece Passion Pit would be up there with fellow electro-candy merchants MGMT, rather than stalling at No 51 in 2009. Who knows why they failed to catch fire? It wasn't for want of either imagination or tunes, both of which are abundantly present on their second album. Songwriter and falsetto lead vocalist Michael Angelakos probably thinks too much ("It's an album about making an album that's straining [your] relationship," he has said), and indeed his moods swing wildly Ė on the clattering On My Way, he's optimistic ("All these demons, I can beat'em"), but he and his girl are "heartbroken and numb" on the funky build-up of Cry Like a Ghost. Yet his ability to create sunlight and sparkle with an arsenal of sequencers and computers remains consistent, and is the album's real point of interest. The squeals and buzzes and warped samples are manipulated into buoyant songs that float like, well, gossamer. A big moment is the ethereal R&B pastiche Constant Conversations, with Swedish a cappella trio Erato, but there are virtually no duds here....full text
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