Review: Passion Pit – Gossamer
Published on August 4th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
…in which Rocksucker stumbles upon a mildly intriguing case of muscle memory by repeatedly typing ‘Passion Put‘. Clearly we don’t use the word ‘pit’ enough. When’s Nickelback’s next album out?
Anyway, this – the Boston electro-popsters’ follow-up to 2009 debut Manners – is a bit of a triumph. We can but hope that the whole exercise has helped to alleviate the troubled mind of front man Michael Angelakos, because on this evidence it would be the world’s loss were his illness to impinge on his creativity or productivity.
There’s enough going on within Gossamer‘s beaming, technicolour walls to distract you, the listener, from Angelakos’s lyrical content, but his voice is so pleasingly textured – ever so slightly raspy but still light of touch in that milky, multi-tracked sort of way – that these songs don’t need to rely on stream-of-consciousness confessionals to stand up on their own respective pairs of feet.
Take opener “Take a Walk”, the stabby punctuation, ringing guitars and washy synths of which amount to a form of synth-pop that sounds richly organic, an all-too-rare achievement in these times of clinical production and heavy-handed genre-melding. Lean in a little closer and you’ll hear Angelakos singing “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 / And tomorrow you’ll cook dinner / For the neighbours and their kids / We could rip apart those socialists and all their damn taxes / You’ll see I am no criminal / I’m down on both bad knees / I’m just too much a coward
to admit when I’m in need”.
Aside from the presumably unintentional Oedipal undertones concealed within, parts of this read like lyrics translated literally from another language with amusing results; but, you know what, it sounds right, and that’s when a unique voice becomes something you can hang your punter’s hat on.
In a recent singles round-up, Rocksucker described “I’ll Be Alright” as a “glitchy, celestially bleeping stonker with a really rather peculiar video. They’ll certainly be alright on the evidence of this delightfully barmy and sun-kissed number.” We neglected to mention the splendid rumbling drums and a breakdown that sounds like an eruption of floral synths interspersed with beams of technicolour light. It’s pretty ace, basically, and like little else you’ll hear this year.
“Carried Away” wields delicious female backing vocals and a chorus that verges on ’90s Euro-pop but packs a punch with its gleeful group sing-along, while the slowly stomping “Constant Conversations” simply oozes good vibes, coming over like a soul-infused Team Me with extra added plucked violin plinks. The ensuing “Mirrored Sea” brings to mind a more electro-y Mew, and this is also a fine thing indeed.
“Yes, I drank all those drinks on my own / My life’s become some blurry little quest” holds “Cry Like a Ghost”, just one of this album’s great sucker-punch lines and ever so arresting in amongst the squelchy fart bass and huge washy synth pads – a cool, squealy female vocal bit also merits mention here – while you may respond with a chilling sense of recognition to “And the clock kept ticking slowly, and you leaned over to ask me / If I even had a clue where I was / Well I lied down on your wood floors, and my brain and body took course / In the night ended as though it never was“. But…but the music’s so uplifting…
“On My Way” is the stand-out track thus far: it’s utterly joyous in its splendour, almost Beach Boys-worthy of chorus and delightful with its low-in-the-mix baritone sax and appeal to “consecrate this messy love”, and then we’re treated to a shot of strikingly harmonised a capella loveliness in the form of the resourcefully titled “Two Veils to Hide My Face”.
“Love is Greed” leads gorgeous, multi-coloured twinkling into a big old bitter-sweet stomp – and back again for its wonderful chorus – before Gossamer draws to a close with the contrary, suitably joyous “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy” and the terrific “Where We Belong”, which rivals “On My Way” for stand-out status with its impassioned vocal and air of melodic sophistication.
Here’s hoping the next album finds Angelakos in a good place, first and foremost as we wish him well but also because we’re curious as to how much more downright triumphant-sounding Passion Pit can get. Parts of Gossamer conform too closely to tried and trusted chord progressions for Rocksucker’s own personal taste, while its near-unanimity of sound and mood could be argued as a strength or a weakness, but you can’t help but be swept up in its pop rush. Let the aforementioned sophistication of “Where We Belong” point the way towards the truly great LP this lot would appear to be capable of.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Gossamer is out now on Columbia. For more information please visit gossamer.passionpitmusic.com