Something to know about Passion Pit: Their entire catalogue sounds like the soundtrack to the Super Nintendo classic “Kirby Superstar.” Proof:
So, if that rankles your sensibilities, turn back, o weary traveller. If it causes frowns to drift in an unmistakably upward direction, then give Gossamer a spin.
It seems like the wait for a new album since 2010’s insta-classic Manners has been interminable. Since the Boston electro-pop group’s last album, frontman Michael Angelakos’ struggle with the bipolar disorder has necessitated cancelled shows and a deeper look at the dark themes underneath the group’s sparkling synth-driven tunes. Gossamer is an album with two stories to tell: that of scintillating sonic pleasures and harrowingly troubled lyrics.
Take “I’ll Be Alright.” With all the joy of a robot that runs on the dreams of Harajuku girls and tinsel, the track sets the tone for an album built on a sunny disposition. Just when you’ve settled into sugarcoated reverie, Angelakos’ lobs a brick: “I drink a gin and take a couple of my pills/Then my parade will give you chills.”
This bifurcated thread runs consistently throughout. “Love Is Greed” calls the most basic of human emotions a “selfish thing to do” amid twinkling echoes of the Polyphonic Spree. On “Hideaway,” perhaps the most infectious song on Gossamer, the marriage of Disneyesque sounds and nihilistic thought is starkly clear — “your love will evolve to ruin,” sung through a smile.
A couple of outliers are also quite outstanding. “Carried Away” provides continuity to Manners, with slightly less twinkle and a little more texture. The album’s lead single, “Take A Walk,” is one of those tracks that has bupkis to do with anything else on the tracklist. If this were an SAT essay, though, Passion Pit would get full points for sticking to the thesis, as this is an awfully cheery song about utterly shuddersome things. Whereas the bulk of the Passion Pit oeuvre sounds like a Greek chorus of Furbys, this one is engineered for maximum alterna-rock friendliness. Like a Trojan horse for the Pitchfork set, when this single arrived, it seemed for a second that the new album would be a little more grounded. While reality turned out to be a little more sparkly, “Take A Walk” is a triumph for broadened horizons.
It’s easy to miss the pain in Passion Pit’s songs. For starters, Angelakos’ brand of falsetto tends to sound less like words being sung and more like a thousand mice playing piccolos. In an album of highest highs and lowest lows, the depth is what makes the whole experience a satisfying listen.
(1) “Take A Walk”
(2) “I’ll Be Alright”
(3) “Carried Away”