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Slaid Cleaves is still fighting the good fight
Passion Pit | Gossamer
July 19, 2012
Passion Pit | Gossamer
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There's an old adage that most musicians have their whole lives to write their first album, but only a year or two to craft the follow-up. It's now been more than three years since Cambridge-bred Passion Pit birthed debut
to critical acclaim, a wait largely the result of a two-year world-touring schedule. Between then and now, Passion Pit vocalist and chief songwriter Michael Angelakos has lived a few different lives, and those lives rise to the surface of
, a poignantly lyrical record that shows the former Emerson student reflecting on himself and the world around him, and himself
the world around him. Lead track "Take a Walk" is an observational recession-era story-song about overdrawn bank accounts, market losses, and an aging marriage, but the romping electro-pop jam is a bit misleading in its aural simplicity. The rest of
is a huge, sparkling, laser light show that retains the band's signature "fun"-ness, but beneath the layers of instrumental tracking (as many as 120 per song) is the dark underside of Angelakos's internal struggles.
is essentially a musical about his own life, fit for Broadway, a cautionary tale that's uplifting but not without pitfalls, in which a maturing Angelakos comes clean about hospitalizations, getting engaged, and addiction. Those themes are prevalent: on the glitchy "I'll Be Alright" ("My brain is racing and I feel like I'll explode"); his love-letter ballad to his fiancée ("Just believe in me, Kristina/All these demons/I can beat 'em."), and the record's surprising high-point, the Brooklyn R&B street-walker "Constant Conversations" ("They told me drinking doesn't make me nice"). Songs like "Hideaway" still shine with Passion Pit's trademark rainbow-synth cascade, and "Carried Away" recalls the glimmering disco bounce of the band's past hits, but the revelation in
is Angelakos's inner voice. This is his coming-out party, a Brian Wilson figure in the making; and if the next few years don't kill him, he'll emerge as one of the finest songwriters of our time.
off the record
ARTICLES BY MICHAEL MAROTTA
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