Passion Pit • Kindred • Columbia • US Release Date: April 21, 2015
How can one band be so dang positive? Ask Passion Pit, who seem to master jubilance within their music, album after album. The latest LP, Kindred is no different, finding strife, grief, and tribulation to be non-factors. Even though it’s no secret front man Michael Angelakos had a scare with bipolar disorder, you wouldn’t know it by the radiant Kindred.
“Lifted Up (1985)” initiates Kindred in exuberant, luminous fashion. The adoration that Michael Angelakos exhibits for his love is genuinely remarkable: “And 1985 was a good year – the sky broke apart then you appeared / dropped from the heavens, they call me a dreamer / I won’t lie, I knew you belonged here.” It’s unsurprising “Lifted Up (1985)” was chosen as the centerpiece – the set’s promotional single.
Angelakos piercing pipes continue commandingly on the clever “Whole Life Story,” another record characterized by its dedication to a major key. Although the tone is pleasant, “Whole Life Story” is about the pressures, pitfalls, and lack of privacy brough on by fame. In essence Angelakos, who is dedicated to his wife (Kristy Mucci), is apologizing for the negative impact fame plays: “Sorry, darling, how could you forgive me when our life’s some story out for them to buy?”
“Where The Sky Hangs” is the grooviest joint upon its arrival, adding a dash of smooth soulfulness to the mix. “Where The Sky Hangs” sports arguably the most infectious hook of the album that continues to complement Angelakos’ dedication to Kristy: “I get caught up in your heart strings / way up where all of the sky hangs / I’ll take all that I can get, just don’t make me go.” “All I Want” likewise is characterized by passion and infatuation (“When we wake up / you engulf me in your love.”).
The electronics of “Five Foot Ten (I)” are simply angelic – celestial in quality. Interestingly, at times it seems as if there is a play on words, particularly the key lyric, “I wanna be alone.” Sometimes, the reference is made to intimacy or a life long relationship, while at other times, the lyric plays literally. On “Dancing On The Grave,” the lyrics seem to suggest dwelling in a dark place, such as the figurative “grave” can only destroy you. That explains why lyrics, “Someone hold me as I turn night away / someone hold me to the ultraviolet rays” – it’s better to live life in “celebration.”
“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 / and the rain washed all our cries and pleas away.” – “Looks Like Rain (Chorus)
“Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” continues on the enthusiastic trek, featuring some of the greatest dynamics of the effort since “Lifted Up.” “Looks Like Rain” bests “Until We Can’t,” serving easily as the set’s most beautiful song. The spiritual references of the lyrics, coupled with nursery rhyme “Rain, Rain Go Away” makes the song stand out from the rest and rank among the top echelon.
Penultimate cut “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim” speeds the tempo back up, contrasting the slower, more ‘reverent’ “Looks Like Rain.” It doesn’t achieve the same sense of accomplishment, but like the majority of Kindred, it’s consistent and enjoyable. “Ten Feet Tall (II)” fittingly concludes Kindred with a world of confidence, exemplified by lyrics such as “They knocked me down and I grew ten feet tall” and the biting profane “These motherf**kers and their god damn woes.” Whoa Michael – whoa!
Ultimately, Kindred is another sound Passion Pit album – there’s little to quibble about. Quality, in all honesty, should be the band (or Michael’s) middle name. It’s not perfect as the best tracks are indeed the most memorable with consistency set aside, but all in all, Passion Pit “do the damn thing” as the saying goes.
Favorites: “Lifted Up (1985),” “Where The Sky Hangs,” “Five Foot Ten (I),” and “Looks Like Rain”