Release Date: July 23, 2012
I first heard Passion Pit late in the summer of 2009. My buddy Dave, a musicologist in his own right, made me listen to ‘Sleepyhead’ while we were wasting time on company clock. Instantly, I was hooked and Manners became a staple in my iTunes playlist.
Last week, Passion Pit released their long-awaited follow up, Gossamer. Perhaps expectedly, I was worried that Gossamer would suffer from the sophomore slump that launches many a great indie artist into oblivion. But as soon as I gave it a listen, I realized I had been wrong. By all accounts, Gossamer lives up to the standard of the first record.
At first, Gossamer sounds similar to Manners. Like its predecessor, Gossamer has some great tracks, but also some easily forgettable numbers. There are the signature falsetto vocals and upbeat synths. If you enjoy that Passion Pit sound, you will be happy to know it has not been abandoned in favour of reckless experimenting.
Deep down, however, there is something markedly different about Gossamer. There is also something different about Passion Pit itself. It is more mature. It is darker. It is more melancholy. But to truly grasp this new side of Passion Pit, you must understand the story behind the album.
Passion Pit is the brain-child of lead vocalist Michael Angelakos, keyboard/guistarist Ian Hultquist, drummer Nate Donmoyer and producer Chris Zanes. While the core of the group has remained intact, Angelakos – being the heart and sound of the electro-pop group – has undergone some drastic changes in his life. Following the 2009 success of Manners, Angelakos went through depression and spent some time at a mental health clinic in Houston. Angelakos then revealed that he suffered from bi-polar disorder. While recovering and enduring, Angelakos met the girl of his dreams, Kristy Mucci, who is now his fiancée. Angelakos credits Mucci with helping to rescue him from himself.
It is this story that Gossamer aims to capture with its sound. On its surface, the Cambridge, Massachusetts band still performs with that cheery and upbeat sound. It is captured perfectly in “Take a Walk”. Underneath however, there is a certain sadness, and a little pain, that want to be heard. If you listen to “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy”, “I’ll Be Alright” or “Cry Like a Ghost”, you can almost hear it. It is this mixture of emotions that makes Gossamer rich.
It is this tale of triumph, of enduring pain and undying love, that makes Gossamer worth listening to.