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Passion Pit – Gossamer July 24, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Passion Pit

Album: Gossamer

Release: Columbia, 2012

Genre: Pop

RIYD: Falsetto vocals, Disney musicals, manic depression

Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos and Louis CK (especially in his stand-up) have a lot in common: both are masterful at their trade, but their overtly cynical worldviews make their work a bit hard to digest. While Louis CK excessively exaggerates all of humanity’s flaws for comedic effect, inviting his audience to share a laugh over our common absurdity, Angelakos professes his desperate musings over unabashedly catchy pop music, enticing us all to commiserate with his pessimism through the inevitable sing-along.

Take “Love Is Greed”, for example, from Passion Pit’s latest album, Gossamer. “Love is just greed” Angelakos sings over syrupy-sweet synths and bombastic orchestration, “it’s selfish and it’s mean, it follows all you lead, if we really love ourselves, how do you love somebody else?” While many can relate to this sentiment of possessive love, most people choose not to subscribe to this simplistic and misguided conclusion in favor of a greater faith in humanity. Nonetheless, shortly after hearing that track, you’ll most likely be playing those lines over and over in your head until they start to form some kind of false truth.

To make matters worse, Gossamer plays like the soundtrack to some fucked-up Disney film in which the princess dismisses our animated hero for the villain and ultimately ends in the hero’s suicide. Compared to Passion Pit’s 2009 debut, Manners, the sophomore effort favors grandiose, orchestral arrangements of cheery vocal samples, chirping electronics, and beautiful strings to serve as the backdrop for the increasingly clear vocal stylings of a manic depressive. The music itself is fantastic: there’s so much going on that it’s truly a pleasure to get lost in each track, and the hooks and choruses are more than good enough to get you going back for repeated listens. But paying close attention to the lyrics, especially on the gut-wrenching “I’ll Be Alright” and the hopeless fantasies of “Hideaway”, leaves the listener with a contradictory feeling of emptiness and loneliness. Though I love all of the sounds that Angelakos has constructed in his painstaking work on Passion Pit’s latest, my concern for his well-being makes me uncomfortable, especially given the news that he’s canceled his tour until his mental state improves. He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve, for all of his fans to see, and the shock of such tormented genius might just be a bit too much to stomach.

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1. Conveyor – Conveyor « safer in the dark - July 24, 2012

[…] point: we’ve already heard Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan and Passion Pit’s Gossamer and are still waiting on Grizzly Bear’s Shields, The xx’s Coexist, Dan Deacon’s […]

2. The Top 20 Musical Releases of 2012 « safer in the dark - December 19, 2012

[…] Any discussion of Passion Pit must involve the inherent contradiction between Michael Angelakos’ sad, sad life (as expressed through his lyrics and manic falsetto) and the peppy, upbeat, and fun music that supports it. It’s not so easy to ignore the words when they’re coming right out of your mouth as you sing along in the shower or while driving, and chances are (if you’re sane and not an emo high school student) you may disagree with his claims (such as the one about love being greed). But there’s no denying that this power-pop is extremely powerful, whether it be through its sheer infectious qualities or as a result of this intriguing contradiction, and, given all the incredible songs packed onto this disc, there’s no denying its place as one of the albums that will be remembered long past 2012 (even if it sounds a little bit Disney). […]


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