Passion Pit, led by singer/songwriter Michael Angelakos, is known for employing a unique and uncannily delightful blend of sparkling synths, pounding bass and shimmering drum sounds, all complimented by Angelakos’ haunting, yet endearing, falsetto to create their own blend of synthpop. Their latest album “Gossamer,” released on July 24, offers the same quality as previous albums, but in a new package.
“Gossamer” was two years in the making and follows the path set by its predecessor, “Manners” (2009) and is currently number 4 on the US Billboard 200. In that time, Angelakos dealt with debilitating health issues, including bipolar disorder, depression and alcoholism. He even had to cancel six tour dates to work on his mental health. The pain he endured can be felt in every note he utters on “Gossamer” as he croons his way through every track.
The album opens with “Take a Walk,” an infectiously tragic song about an immigrant working to support his family overseas. It immediately grabs the listener’s attention with its accessibility, both lyrically and musically. While the song on its own is quite strong, it doesn’t seem to quite fit the lyrical themes found in the other songs, creating a disjointed feeling early in the album.
“I’ll Be Alright” blasts apart the speakers and drums, and hard-nosed synths sear through what evolves into probably the catchiest song on the album. The lyrics find Angelakos feeling guilty for holding his partner back, and although you can tell he loves her, he tells her that she can “go if (she) wants to” and that he’ll “be alright,” setting the tone of heartbreak early.
“Carried Away” and “Constant Conversations” follow, and deal with a couple arguing over money and alcoholism, respectively. “Constant Conversations,” my favorite song on the album, yet arguably the most tragic, displays an R&B influence and deals with Angelakos’ alcoholism and his continuing struggle with his fiancé. Here, she is fighting for him to beat his addiction, and he loves her so much for it, yet he sees in himself only destruction and again tells her she’ll have to leave him someday.
The true strength of this album comes from Angelakos’ growth as a songwriter and his unique ability to blend upbeat synthpop with despairing lyrics. While it may not be Passion Pit’s most exceptional work, at times sounding disjointed and sloppily produced, it is by far their most accessible album, and Angelakos’ most refined collection of songs to date. The thing that excites me the most about “Gossamer” is the expansion of the band’s sound and its dense layering, allowing the listener to hear something different with every listen.