Family Matters in Passion Pit’s ‘Kindred’
It has been seven years since Matthew Angelakos created the “Chunk of Change” EP to give to his girlfriend as a Valentine’s present and Passion Pit began. The band holds a unique place in the electronic indie scene as having over-the-top production values while telling personal stories.
“Kindred,” Passion Pit’s third studio album, fits exactly into this mold, but it falls flat compared to its predecessor “Gossamer.”
After receiving treatment for his bipolar disorder and becoming an advocate for mental health, Angelakos’ songwriting has drifted from dreariness hiding behind candy floss to where the artist draws his positivity and strength — don’t worry, the songs are still covered in candy floss.
While Angelakos’ songwriting has always featured the personal aspects of family and relationships, these familial bonds anchor the album. Instead of focusing on the external strains on these relationships, “Kindred” shifts the narrative focus inwards, giving the listener a unique look into the artist’s soul.
The personal narrative is what is expected from Angelakos. Unfortunately, many of these narratives are lost in the over-the-top production and autotuned vocals. Passion Pit usually successfully walks the fine line between overproduction and glossy. Unfortunately, the production choices in many of the songs distract from the heart of the relationships being explored.
There are several songs which are worth looking into. The opening track, “Lifted Up (1985),” combines both beautiful narrative and excellent production choices. The song is catchy and is so danceable that it will instantly brighten anyone’s day. This song sets the overall tone of optimism for the album, which is distinct from “Take a Walk,” the opening of “Gossamer.”
The second song, “Whole Life Story,” sounds like a more electronic version of a Death Cab for Cutie song. It is a harrowing and thoroughly satisfying listen.
Unfortunately, the album travels into mind-numbing monotony. There was a lack of musical style and aspiration between the songs “Where the Sky Hangs” and “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go).”
“Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” is cut from a similar instantly danceable vein that “Lifted Up (1985)” is from. The narrative is darker than “Lifted Up (1985),” but the struggles faced by Angelakos and the attitude he brings to them ultimately creates a truly uplifting song.
Several of the songs on this album also have religious undertones. The song “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim” does this most effectively. The song casts the brother as a Christ-like figure who watches over Angelakos as a child, teaching him how to swim and loving him unconditionally but Angelakos runs away and gets lost.
This album should have been an EP. There were some truly masterful songs on “Kindred,” but there were honestly some songs that were terrible. There is a period of the album which is very monotonous and the final song of the album “Ten Feet Tall (II)” feels like a pink cloud of noxious fumes slowly asphyxiating the listener. If Angelakos had cut these songs off the album and released the rest of it as an EP, it would be a more exquisite listen overall.
RECOMMENDED: Although “Kindred” lacks the creativity seen in Passion Pit’s last album, it is nonetheless worth a listen and sure to please any diehard Passion Pit fan..