Written by Erin Mathis
New music from Passion Pit? That’s right. After nearly three years, the indietronia/synthpop band from Massachusetts has finally put out a third album to add to their already phenomenal discography. Fans will be relieved to know that despite their prolonged hiatus, Passion Pit has kept their distinct, lovable sound. The synths are alive and well, and front man Michael Angelakos hasn’t stopped singing in his one-of-a-kind falsetto (though he did decide to leave the chipmunks behind this time around). The album’s name, Kindred, refers to family or relations, which is a theme that can be found in many of its song lyrics. As a whole, Kindred exudes power and positivity in a typical Passion Pit fashion.
This positivity begins with the album’s very first song, one appropriately titled “Lifted Up (1985).” It was released as a single back in February, and with its soaring, catchy chorus has already proven to be a crowd favorite. It beautifully describes a scene of someone descending from heaven, and Angelakos has recently proven fans’ suspicions that the song was written with his girlfriend-turned-wife Kristina Mucci in mind (Heaven’s missing an angel cliché, cue the ‘aws’). However, the recently released music video for it, to many fans’ dismay, does not include any of this romance, but instead, features Angelakos amongst enough strobe lights to warrant a seizure warning (not joking, there really is a seizure warning).
The next two singles to be let out of the gates early were “Where the Sky Hangs” and “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)”. Though both songs are sure to please, individually, they may be favorited by different crowds. “Where the Sky Hangs” is slowed down and simple with a little bit of a seventies groove, while “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go) is loud, fast paced, and dancey. It begins with a slow synth build up before jumping into a thrashy electronic chorus that begs the listener to sing, no, scream, along.
Another MVP is “Whole Life Story”, a song that begins with a bit of crackling record static and then transitions into a steady drum clap beat that carries throughout most of the song, with the exception of some twinkling pianos found in the bridge. The sweet desperation found in Angelakos’ voice will remind listeners of early Passion Pit, and its lyrics are all about the fear of losing a lover: “Just give it some more time,” he pleads.
“Dancing on the Grave” is noteworthy for its ability to inspire. The instrumentals in this song are suppressed to gentle jewlery-box-like sounds alongside sweeping, soft, inspirational synths. It is a song of celebration, of dancing on the graves of one’s past; of “the nights we couldn’t sleep.” It ends with a breathtakingly uplifting long and epic fade out.
Next up is something a bit unusual, and a first from Passion Pit: a pair of songs. “Five Foot Ten (I)” and “Ten Feet Tall (II)” are thematically connected, and cleverly positioned as the fifth and tenth songs, respectively. “Five Foot Ten (I)” features a mix of fun sounds, from wood blocks, to magical wind-chime sounds, to glittery synth scales. Its lyrics hint at confidence issues, as he says that he is not as strong as he used to be, and hopes that his accomplishments will be rewarded with praise. “Ten Feet Tall (II)” on the other hand, displays an in-your-face self-assuredness that is awesomely admirable. His sugary vocals sound ever so polite, even when he is essentially telling his haters and doubters to f*** off. “Look at me now, I’m 10 feet tall,” he sings, definitely feeling taller than his actual 5 foot 10 stature. Something that may turn some listeners off is the extreme Auto-Tuning of Angelakos’ voice. It’s important to note that this was most likely an artistic choice, in an attempt to play around with the electronic nature of the song, rather than a solution to cover up incompetent vocals, as he has proven time and time again his ability to hit otherworldly notes.
Finally, there are a few songs that might leave the listener feeling shortchanged. “All I Want” and “My Brother Taught Me How to Swim” both come off as a bit expected, while “Looks Like Rain” is mundane and repetitive. This song is fine during the first listen, but by the second or third is one that listeners will quickly want to skip over. The word “rain” is extended to about nine or ten syllables, making it sound less like “rain” and more like “rayayayayayayan” (which can get sort of annoyoyoyoyoying).
Though this album may not get the same attention as Gossamer did back in 2012 with “Take a Walk,” there are still plenty of incredible songs on it to both satisfy fans’ appetites and possibly earn the band some more radio time. And if this album miraculously exceeds our expectations, and suddenly rockets Angelakos into mainstream stardom, it’s safe to say that fans can rest easy. If his signature sound has lasted three whole studio albums, it won’t be going away anytime soon.
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Passion Pit’s Kindred is currently available on iTunes.