Passion Pit is good at what it does.
What it does, or rather what the one man behind Passion Pit, Michael Angelakos, does, is create layered, indie pop that wants to have more beneath the surface than actually exists.
When the easy and fun-to-listen-to melodies are peeled away, lyrics that try to be deeper than they are emerge. I believe Angelakos believes everything he is singing, but I just don’t believe the lyrics are as meaningful as he wants to think they are.
Passion Pit took three years after releasing “Gossamer” in 2012 to release “Kindred” on Tuesday. In many ways it’s similar to the former album — breezy pop, with heavy use of synthesizers and layered sound, giving each song a full, welcoming feel.
“Kindred,” however, shows growth in terms of length — or lack thereof. Though “Gossamer” was 12 songs, “Kindred” is only 10 and each song is more precise, getting to the point quicker while maintaining the floating, layered sound Passion Pit had already perfected.
“Kindred” begins with “Lifted Up (1985),” which was the first single released off of the album in February. Decidedly pop with an upbeat tempo, it sets the stage for the rest of the album. It’s also the song on the album that makes the most sense as a single, and the most fun to listen to.
One of the issues with this album, as has been the issue with previous Passion Pit albums, is all the songs sound the same. This isn’t to say the songs aren’t fun or catchy or something that makes you happy to listen to. But they are repetitive, and after 40 minutes can start to grate on the nerves a bit.
“Dancing on the Grave” and “Looks Like Rain” slow down the tempo of the album some with the former speaking of dancing on the grave of youthful times and the latter talking about people who don’t want it to rain.
“Looks Like Rain” is a prime example of lyrics that just don’t accomplish what Passion Pit wants them to. The song is literally about rain. In the chorus, Angelakos sings, “And I said, ‘Hey, looks like rain’/ Then you lifted your hands and prayed/ ’Go away, you can come back some other day’/ But they stayed and you soaked under all of the grey.”
If there is a deeper meaning to the song here, I am completely missing it. The lyrics are about rain. They are talking about people who don’t want it to rain, yet it does anyway.
Maybe this is a deep, symbolic metaphor for the fact life goes on despite things happening that we don’t want to, but the juxtaposition of the floating music and the lyrics aren’t enough to draw any tough comparisons to a hard life in my eyes.
The three-year album gap was good for Passion Pit, and “Kindred” definitely marks a more concise album than its predecessor.
The production on the album is commendable, and the precise editing of each song contributes to the smooth flow and easy-listening value.
The downfall of this album is the same as it is for “Gossamer.” There is too much of the same thing, and the lyrics want to be more than they are.
Sometimes rain is just rain.