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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Review: Passion Pit album falls short amongst better new releases

    Columbia+Records

    Columbia Records

    Things change. It’s the natural order of the universe, and, according to the Laws of Thermodynamics, entropy is an unstoppable force. As such a natural part of life, it is the unconscious expectation of every endeavor: This time, it will be different; this time it will be better. Humans learn through repetition, by recognizing the most minuscule of changes and applying the good ones towards the future. 

    This is why we often equate higher quality with change, especially in music. The top-level performers are always reinventing themselves. Kanye West operates on another planet from mere mortals because of his chameleon-like ability to transition seamlessly from 808s & Heartbreak to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to Yeezus. Of course, there comes a day when even the great ones lose their fast twitch muscles and the ability to adapt on the fly.

    Every great band seems to level off and start putting out the same record over and over again. All-timers like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty put out a “new” record every few years that is as predictable as the sunrise. The point at which an artist gives up on evolving is the inflection point at which their career starts heading downhill. Which brings me to my main point: with the release of the new album Kindred, I’m worried about Passion Pit, and you should be too. 

    It would take an extraordinary amount of effort to have a bad time while listing to songs like “Sleepyhead” and “Little Secrets”, which is a large reason why Passion Pit found massive popularity in the first place. Infectious fun was its forte. Front man Michael Angelakos powered the band with his high-pitched vocals and catchy pop hooks. Passion Pit provided the poster child for sugar-coated electro pop, which is why its sophomore effort of Gossamer surprised so many.

    “Take a Walk”, the most popular track of Gossamer, exemplifies what makes the album excellent and Kindred disappointing. In between the thumping choruses of “Take a Walk,” Angelakos sings the tale of a man who lost it all in the financial crash of 2008.

    The beauty of Gossamer and “Take a Walk” was found beyond the initial appearance. Hidden beneath the saccharine pop hooks and high-pitched choruses was the ominous story of a deeply hurting individual. The trials and tribulations surrounding Angelakos’ bipolar disorder fueled much of Gossamer. This substance is missing from much of Kindred.

    If you’re the kind of person that eats the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day, then Kindred is for you. The album as a whole feels like B-sides from in-between Manners and Gossamer. I’m not sure any single song is better than the offerings on Gossamer. The latest ’80s craze continues to invade musical pop culture with the opening track “Lifted Up (1985).” From the opening song, the album meanders over 40 minutes of pleasant electropop without ever finding a distinct and compelling sound. 

    Songs such as “Five Foot Ten (I)” and “Looks Like Rain” are good, but the best of an album barely reaching “good” is never a good sign. The only dalliance Angelakos makes from his strict adherence to the norm is in the downtempo excursions on “Where the Sky Hangs” and “Looks Like Rain”. Hearing Passion Pit without the ADHD underpinnings is tranquil, and I wish there was more variation like it within the album. 

    Angelakos split off from his band mates after Passion Pit’s last tour and worked on Kindred as a solo project. While the alblum is one long love letter to Angelakos’ wife, it is just another tally on the list of bands that split up over romance. The romance concept is a worthwhile endeavor (see the recent and excellent I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty), but creatively, Kindred comes up short. 2015 will be remembered as a year chock full of excellent music releases, but Kindred will not be counted among them.

    Rating: 4/10

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    Follow Alex Furrier on Twitter.

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