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Passion Pit showcases ‘Kindred’ spirits

| Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WEB_kindredSara Shoemake | The Observer

I’ve only seen Passion Pit live once. My lovely girlfriend got us tickets for Passion Pit’s “Gossamer” tour back in 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The day of the show, New York was hit with a nasty snowstorm, and after forging our way into the city we were greeted with an uncharacteristically silent New York. The snow had managed to stop almost all metropolitan activity and coated the streets with a white blanket. While aesthetically the city looked more beautiful than I have ever seen it, practically speaking, the snow was a travel nightmare.

Don’t fret; I am not trying to sound like a hardcore concertgoer. This long, convoluted description of my escapade to see Passion Pit at MSG serves a purpose. The whole night stood as a fitting metaphor for Passion Pit’s “Gossamer.” The glittery pop songs, which fill “Gossamer,” are fueled through utter anguish and emotional strife. Where the album comes off as a fun, poppy joyride, it dubiously manifests itself as the inner demons of Passion Pit’s front man, Michael Angelakos. Again, while aesthetically beautiful, “Gossamer” can also be taken as sad reflection on the human psyche — similar to the snowy New York I experienced and its dual nature as both beautiful and destructive.

However, with the release of Passion Pit’s new album, “Kindred,” this past week, the snowy New York no longer serves its metaphorical purpose. Many of the insecurities and self-loathing that saturated “Gossamer” in songs like “Take and Walk” and “I’ll Be Aright,” are replaced with reflective pieces emphasizing inner strength and love. Instrumentally, “Kindred” reflects these changing emotional sentiments, as many songs introduce a stripped down Passion Pit that relies more on melodic, slow tempo harmonies than past albums. With only ten songs, the concise album is a powerful reflection on the growth of Angelako’s mental strength.

Ranging between full-fledged pop ballads and low-key retrospective hymns, Passion Pit keeps an important level dynamism throughout their discography. This has been true since their inception, on “Chunk of Change” we heard the infectious “Sleepy Head” alongside “Cuddle Fuddle,” a lovely tune with an inventive hook. The same was true with “Gossamer,” the contrast between the viability of “Take a Walk” as a commercial pop song and the resignation of “Constant Conversations” as a slow paced, melodic piece highlights Passion Pit’s complexity as an indie pop group.

This duality continues on “Kindred.” On the pop end, “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” exhibits Angelakos’s scary impressive falsetto over a chorus of heavy-hitting synth beats. On the other end of the scale, “Dancing on the Grave” brings a much slower (almost boring) tune that echoes the line, “We can’t stay here.” However, “Kindred” brings with it a new middle ground, most notably on “Where The Sky Hangs,” a tranquil song with a simple bass hook and a fun, sing-along chorus. The expansion of Passion Pit’s sound is just another reminder of their growth as artists.

Yet, while Angelakos’s shift in focus on “Kindred” is certainly not intrinsically bad for the group, it does eliminate some of the (no pun intended) passion. Where Angelakos inner distress permeated every song on “Gossamer,” parts of “Kindred” are less memorable. It’s up in the air as to whether Angelakos’s fire is diminishing or simply taking some time to reignite.

“Kindred” may not be as holistically strong as its predecessor, but it certainly capitalizes on a few strong points. If you are new to Passion Pit, by all means give it a listen. For the veterans, don’t have tremendously high hopes, but I guarantee that you will find the gems.

Shamrocks: 4/5

Label: Columbia Records

Related Artists: Matt and Kim, Madeon, Miike Snow, Foster The People

Recommended Tracks: “Where the Sky Hangs,” ““Until We Can’t (Let’s Go),” “All I Want”

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

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