Passion Pit – Gossamer
On its surface, Gossamer utilizes the same bipolar approach as Passion Pit’s debut, Manners: sticky-sweet melodies and glossy production meet dark, introspective lyrics that make the Shins’ James Mercer seem like Little Orphan Annie. The difference is that Gossamer pushes harder in both directions. There’s still the hyperactive, glitchy synth-soul that sounds like Prince and New Order had too much birthday cake and then headed to the disco—it’s just bigger and brighter. And while Michael Angelakos wasn’t exactly in his best spirits on Manners, here he’s hit an all-time low. Images of addiction, financial ruin, loneliness and suicidal depression pop up everywhere here, most notably on the album’s best track, “Take A Walk,” a keenly observed tale of a family’s economic strife, and the late-night blue-eyed soul of “Constant Conversations,” where Angelakos confesses he’s “drunker than before they told me drinking doesn’t make me nice.” What keeps this pity party afloat is how Passion Pit turn Angelakos’ confessions into outsized, crowd-pleasing anthems. The twitchy “I’ll Be Alright” has a soothing yet ambivalent hook; “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” and “Where We Belong” have a surprisingly affecting undertow, and “Love Is Greed,” with its singalong chorus, is sure to become a live favorite. Plus, Angelakos offers a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the encouraging “On My Way” and “Hideaway,” which work nicely against his nastiest impulses elsewhere. So there you have it: There are arguably no real missteps, and it all makes for pleasant listening. At the same time, however, there’s nothing here as memorable as, say, “Little Secrets” or “Sleepyhead,” and a few tracks are in need of stronger hooks or a songwriting quirk to help them stick in the mind. Whether fans enjoy Gossamer more than Manners will ultimately depend on why they found Passion Pit appealing to begin with, since both albums offer very similar pleasures. If it’s the emotional undercurrent that captivates you, then Gossamer‘s your guy. If it’s pop satisfaction you’re after, you’ll dig moments on Gossamer, but you will likely stick with Manners. Gossamer‘s an album with a lot of potential and a lot to admire, yet it simply lacks that extra spark and diversity in the songwriting to push it over the edge and into the pantheon.