Monday 23 July 2012

Passion Pit - Gossamer

Writing on the band's website last week, frontman Michael Angelakos revealed the sad news that Passion Pit will be postponing their current tour so that he can "take the time to work on improving [his] mental health". Over the last few years since their 2009 debut 'Manners', Angelakos has suffered from writers block and depression.  'Gossamer' is the band's latest album and is clearly influenced by the frontman's illness - let's hope writing this has proved cathartic and has set him on the road to recovery.

Passion Pit have always juxtaposed downbeat lyrics with irresistibly vibrant production.  With 'Gossamer', Angelakos has lowered his vocal range (though it remains a soft falsetto) and there's less angelic choir accompaniment.  The lyrical content is clearer, giving the music a greater grounding in serious reality, rather than the lofty flights of fantasy that filled 'Manners'.

At first listen, the colourful electro production alone charms.  But dig a little deeper and the emotive lyrics become more apparent.  Lead single Take A Walk features a rhythmically thumping upbeat chorus, but lyrically explores the dire state of the economy - "I watch my little children play some board game in the kitchen and I sit and pray they never feel my strife".  I'll Be Alright is clearly a personal track to Angelakos, revealing a broken relationship with its repeated chorus "You should go if you want to...I'll be alright".  Yet as the verses play out, you get the impression he's far from it - "I'm so self-loathing...just go for someone new".  However, the production bathes the lyrics in hopeful positivity, all clipped samples, hyperactive drum beats and shimmering electronica.

The "pendulum" of Cry Like A Ghost (with its funky, whomping basslines) is symbolic of the album as a whole. 'Gossamer' swings from one extreme to the other - from I'll Be Alright's self-deprecation to On My Way, which pairs a joyful fanfare with "All these demons, I can beat them" for a defiant and uplifting change of pace. Constant Conversations is the only ballad (or as close as Passion Pit come to one) - more R&B slow-jam with its dragging beat and autotuned vocals.

The lyrics ensure that 'Gossamer' has more heartfelt soul than 'Manners' ever had, whilst retaining a sense of playful joviality. That said, Sleepyhead from their previous record remains the band's best track and this album does tail off a little towards the end. It's the dizzying production that always remains thrilling, with its pounding rhythms, sun-dappled synths, fragile, childlike falsetto and vivacious riffs and melodic hooks. It may have a dark interior, but the exterior of 'Gossamer' is pure power pop, the two sides hanging in the delicate balance its name suggests.


Gizzle's Choice:
* I'll Be Alright
* Constant Conversations
* Cry Like A Ghost

Listen: 'Gossamer' is released today.

Watch: After postponement, the band will continue their worldwide tour from August.

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