Passion Pit stays afloat

The indie-pop band returns with an album that still cannot match the magic of its debut, despite bright moments.

Christian Davis, Writer

Anything I have to say about the new Passion Pit record must be prefaced with the fact that I have a somewhat dissenting opinion on the hierarchy of the last two full-length albums. “Gossamer” really did not give me anything to hold on to, which was thoroughly depressing, considering the fact that “Manners” might be one of the greatest synth-pop records of all time. Since then, Passion Pit has continually tried to ride that success wave, albeit not with the finesse or grace they probably wanted. Not to say that “Gossamer” was a bad record, just that the made-for-radio singles felt a little contrived, especially when paired next to the mastery showcased on their debut, a record unafraid to embrace arena style hits in an original and earnest way.

It is difficult to figure out “Kindred’s” place in the Passion Pit mythos, at least for now. At first glance, it is an exciting blend of “Manner’s” freshness with “Gossamer’s” bombastic hooks. Lead single “Lifted Up” (1985) is sure to be a fist-pounding festival highlight, and it also doubles as a touching tribute to lead singer and central member Michael Angelako’s wife. “1985 was a good year / the sky opened up and you appeared / dropped from the heaven’s they called me a dreamer / I won’t lie, I knew you’d belong here.” It is a welcome change from Take a Walk’s banal chorus, a song I had felt I had already heard a dozen times before I, you know, actually heard it.

“Kindred” is an incredibly charming record, I will admit. There has always been something safe and cutesy about this band’s music, and I am continually impressed Angelako’s ability to use his falsetto in very risky, daring and unhinged ways. “My Brother Taught Me How to Swim” is kind of adorable, with a chorus that starts out strong, but is undone with indie-pop trademark “woah ohs” peppered throughout the rest of it. Regardless, “Kindred” is a huge step up from “Gossamer’s” sickly sweet sheen. “Whole Life Story” is expertly crafted, with a driving rhythm section whose pace is only broken by following track, “Where the Sky Hangs,” an 80s slow jam that Dev Hynes of Blood Orange could have produced. “Until We Can (Let’s Go)” is arguably “Kindred’s” strongest moment, with a glitch driven intro and excellent melody writing. It is a testament to the fact that Angelako’s songwriting ability is still a force to be reckoned with, —  just maybe not as consistent as we would have hoped for.

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