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Posted on July 24th, 2012 (10:48 am) by Matt Essert

From their start, Passion Pit found success. From the release of their initial EP Chunk of Change based on a collection of lead singer Michael Angelakos’ songs for his then-girlfriend’s belated Valentine’s Day gift, to the release of their 2009 full length album Manners which found critical success and reached 51 on the Billboard 200 charts and 8 on the Billboard US Independent charts, Passion Pit has thus far produced a solid body of work. Of course, then, when the band looks to create its second full-length album, there’s undeniable pressure to avoid the sophomore slump plaguing so many bands. But for Passion Pit, this simply wasn’t a problem.

With Gossamer, out today on Columbia Records, Passion Pit has managed to both stretch themselves and hone their sound to simultaneously mature as a group and stay young and fresh as a band. In Manners, the Boston-based band surely had something solid on their hands, although their somewhat formulaic approach to songs made the album sound a bit too much like they knew how to make a good song over and over again, rather than curate a good collection of songs that were unique, but cohesive. Their sound was defined in Manners but it wasn’t thought out. Now, however, Passion Pit has taken a step back and after three years, released “a Passion Pit album,” and not just “a bunch of Passion Pit songs.”

“Take A Walk,” the opening track and probably the most instantly accessible pop hit, starts the record off with a bang (literally) with somewhat surprising driving and sing-along-able choruses. It also immediately demonstrates Angelakos’ contemplative lyrical style and tone with subtle reflections on current events on lines like “Honey, it's your son, I think I borrowed just too much / We had taxes, we had bills, we had a lifestyle to front / And tonight I swear I'll come home and we'll make love like we're young.” It's a demonstrated level of maturity perfectly mirroring the group's aural advances.

And while “Take A Walk” is in many ways a stand out song for good reasons, it also strangely stands out as unique and somewhat separate from some of the album’s other motifs. Though it still sounds like Passion Pit, it’s one of the few songs to avoid the deep, soulful, autobiographical lyrical content found in much of the rest of Gossamer. The next track, “I’ll Be Alright,” immediately demonstrates the band’s growth with impressively confusing sounds thrown together into a surprisingly balanced pop song. It’s also the first call out to the reflective, almost worried, discussion threaded throughout many of the album’s lyrics. “Can you remember ever having any fun? / 'Cause when it's all said and done / I always believed we were / But now I'm not so sure.” It’s an excellent pop song that opens the doors to an album powerfully reflecting on serious issues like domestic abuse immigration, alcoholism, economic disparity, and drugs.

But the whole time we’re realizing how many evils we all deal with, a poppy chorus is right around the corner to assure us—rightfully or not—that things will turn out fine. Across all the dread, there’s a constant assurance that “I’ll be alright,” “everything will be fine,” or “someday, everything will be okay,” all demonstrating a level of maturity to both recognize serious issues, but still maintain a normal life (let’s say, it’s not emo-pop).

And however much these lyrical themes do to tie the album together, the music isn’t far behind. With their multi-layered synthesizers, intricate sampling, hectic-yet-bump-able beats, and soar falsetto work, several songs like “Carried Away,” “On My Way,” and “Love Is Greed,” are all uniquely and almost instantly recognizable as Passion Pit (well, you’d recognize them if you knew who Passion Pit was). Even “Constant Conversations,” a moving track that’s a bit of a departure in the form of a smooth R&B jam that stretches their sound and echoes tinges of The Dirty Projectors, still sounds like Passion Pit.

As an album, Gossamer shows strong maturity in a number of ways. For one, Passion Pit has been able to reflect on serious themes without depressing every listener, and while trying to reassure us that, like it’s poppy melodies, everything will turn out brighter, even though we’re not sure when or how. Also, basically every song on the album sounds like it’s supposed to be on the same collection. While there are a lot of good songs here, it isn’t a collection of hits put together to sell a couple of songs; it’s an thought-out album with a bunch of hits. Plus, Passion Pit has shown that even though they’re growing and developing as a band (and doing it well), they’re in no rush to grow up too fast. They’re still finding out who they are and singing about heart break, getting older and trying to figure everything out. Passion Pit isn’t trying too hard to be grown-ups about this whole “music thing,” and that’s what’s making them so mature.

Track List:
1. Take a Walk
2. I'll Be Alright
3. Carried Away
4. Constant Conversations
5. Mirrored Sea
6. Cry Like a Ghost
7. On My Way
8. Hideaway
9. Two Veils to Hide My Face
10. Love Is Greed
11. It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy
12. Where We Belong

Passion Pit, Gossamer, Take a Walk, I'll Be Alright, Columbia, Pop, Boston
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

83 / 100
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