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Passion Pit - Kindred (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 Written by Huw Baines

Michael Angelakos and Passion Pit have always existed at a certain remove from one another. His music operates on a visceral level, combining teeth-rotting hooks with production that, in his own words, tends towards the maximalist. Lyrically, though, he has maintained a confessional tone. Never has that been more apparent than on ‘Kindred’.

Here the balancing act takes on fresh meaning, with this latest batch of songs hewing closer to all-out pop than ever before while forming the next chapter in his story. After ‘Gossamer’ and the frank discussion of his bipolar disorder, ‘Kindred’ focuses on family, friendship, love and support. It’s an open document of efforts to keep moving forward. Like its predecessor, much of this record’s power comes from Angelakos’ willingness to be candid.

‘Kindred’ is less of an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink album than earlier Passion Pit releases, with an apparently conscious effort made to keep things brief and to the point.

This works wonders for some of the more pared down moments, including the superb, almost spare Where The Sky Hangs, Looks Like Rain and Whole Life Story, a sorry note to Angelakos’ wife that relies on little more than a bass hook and splashes of synth: “How could you forgive me when our life’s some story out for them to buy?”

Doubtless, there will be those who miss the genre-hopping of old. But ‘Kindred’ suggests that Angelakos’ meddling with simpler melodies will eventually blossom into something different. Lifted Up (1985) and Five Foot Ten (I) are bold and exuberant, but remain tethered to their hooks. Even then, they leap forward in a manner that’s a little incongruous given the restraint show elsewhere. There’s a sense that there is a tonal balance that hasn’t quite been found yet.

Given the quality of the best songs on ‘Kindred’ it seems churlish to look forward to Angelakos’ next move, but it’s hard to avoid that anticipation. With each release, the Passion Pit tale gains added depth and affords greater understanding. Largely, the tunes keep pace on this occasion.


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