Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Album Review - Passion Pit's "Gossamer"

I don't think many people saw Passion Pit coming. Not to say that their brand of sound - synth-driven, gloriously "fun," electro-pop music - was a complete anomaly in 2008, when the Michael Angelakos-led group released Chunk of Change. However, much like the band itself, there is a veil of disguise over not only the band itself, but the group's music, as well. With the release of Gossamer, the group delivers a haymaker of emotion layered within pop music, that even I didn't see coming.

When the group released Manners in 2009, Passion Pit escalated to receive amazing amounts of praise and radio plays. Songs like "The Reeling" "Sleepyhead" and "Little Secrets" were all huge hits, not only in the US but overseas as well. Upon first listen(s), Manners played like an ecstasy-driven hipster dance party, complete with face paint and glow-in-the-dark bubble guns.

But even now, I don't know if people really grasp the depth behind that album. Sure, many tracks are only taken at face-value, and deservedly so, as they are not riddled with lyrics that are inherently emotional and therapeutic; the aforementioned "Sleepyhead" and "Little Secrets" as well as "Let Your Love Grow Tall" are all cheeky, dance-off-worthy, pop tracks that also happen to be greatly composed and produced with care. There are tracks on Manners that dig a little deeper though. Lyrically speaking, these glamourous pop songs have more to them than the fun "beats" would have one believe. "The Reeling" plays more like a cry for interpersonal understanding ("Is this the way my life has got to be/have I a single opportunity?") and "Eyes Like Candles" is an entirely different song when the lyrics are taken literally.

Manners, then, can be considered a mild precursor to the emotions that are glorified and subject in Gossamer, which was released July 24. And it sounds as if Angelakos has had a pretty tumultuous 3 years in between the release of Passion Pit's LPs.

As documented in a wonderfully written feature and interview piece over at Pitchfork earlier in July, Angelakos has been trifling with serious mental disorders for quite some time, which have led him to multiple suicide attempts, and just as many stays in psychiatric care centers and hospitals. He's dealt with alcoholism and drug problems, proving the 25-year-old man that has gotten calls for collaborations from pop icons (Britney Spears, Usher, Nelly Furtado) is human after all. In the interview, Angelakos, admits that one comment from an audio specialist working in a Hi Fi shop tells him that Gossamer is "Actually Great!" In a brief moment of coy, self-aggrandizing glory, Angelakos gripes about the use and emphasis of the word "Actually."

(If you have not read the article, I strongly urge you to do so -- Click here)

Gossamer begins with Angelakos telling the story (via "Take A Walk") of a struggling father/husband coping with financial woes in a trying time: not really anything you'd expect if you listened to Manners heavily. "I'll Be Alright" demonstrates as a selling point for my discussion earlier: incredibly triumphant backing music with a touch of struggle in the lyrics, playing as more of an assurance to loved ones that Angelakos will actually "Be alright." The beat structure in this song is amazing, almost sounding like one of those chipmunk-voiced tracks Kanye West was so well-known for a few years back.

The album only picks up from here. "Carried Away" is one of my favorite [actual] pop tracks of the year and "Constant Conversations" gracefully sounds like a Beach Boys cover mixed with a heavy dose of R&B in-the-round vocals. But even these songs are riddled with easter eggs of emotion. "Carried Away" deals with the struggles of maintaining a relationship, and the pains of pretending friendships. The alarming beauty in "Constant Conversations" is the painfully visceral lyrics about alcohol abuse are masked by quirky sing-a-long parts of the song, in which Angelakos actually says "Sing it loud!"

And the heavy subjects keep coming throughout the album. "On My Way" which is one of my favorite tracks on Gossamer, demonstrates Angelakos' love for his fiance, gently asking her to stay with him through the tough times: "Just believe in me Kristina/All these demons, I can beat 'em..."

I will admit that with this album "not all that shimmers is gold." There are tracks on Gossamer that don't quite hold up to the light that is given out by a vast majority of the LP. "Hideaway" proves to be the album's lone weak song, smack dab in the middle of the album, but the track is quickly forgotten by the greatness that is to follow with songs like "It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy" and "Love is Greed" a great song that sounds like it could be from a children's movie, but again is peppered with questions of inner-reflection like "If we really love ourselves, how can we love somebody else?" Gossamer's looping closing track, "Where We Belong" chronicles Angelakos' attempt at suicide he undertook while in college.

The strong point of Passion Pit's newest music is that although Angelakos might sing about feeling alone and disparate with his own feelings, he recognizes that he is not the only one. Held up not only by his fiance and other supportive members of his family and friends, but also in his music. He recognizes that the support of others is incredibly important for those trying to defeat mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder, as he is currently dealing with. He has pitched an idea for next year's Record Store Day in which Passion Pit will release a 7-inch EP and have the entirety of the profits go to charities that aid in research of mental disorders.

After reading Fitzmaurice's article for Pitchfork, I really started to take in to account how grueling it can be to deal with a disorder (or multiple disorders) like depression, bipolar disorder, etc. and still be out on the road, performing for thousands of people. The lights, the critics, the cheers and even the jeers can all take a toll on someone that is not ready for it. Thus, as Passion Pit is progressively canceling more and more tour dates this summer, I urge you to realize that the band doesn't want to cancel the dates just as much as you don't want them to pass over your city. These issues are very fragile, and should not be taken lightly. It would be nothing short of a tragedy if Gossamer turned out to be a final culmination for a band that has so much in front of them; serving more as a eulogy than a glorification of human emotion through music.

My Rating: 4.3/5
"But we all have problems/ We're all having problems; And we all got something to say."   - Passion Pit's "Carried Away" 


  1. Rаnk your Yоutubе Videοs at http://youtuberankіng.
    top-іnformаtі -> Just $5 а Videο!
    Also see my web site:

  2. A high quality cameгa for a veгy attrасtive рrice or јust a
    baԁ quality pіcturе? Discover on the full review at http:
    My website Cheap Subwoofers