American electro-pop group Passion Pit is really a one-man show, highlighting the genius and madness of singer and songwriter Micheal Angelakos. Gossamer is his second album, and it could be his Pet Sounds. Initially sounding like a candy-sweet wall of noise, the gritty lyrics tell a different story. Dedicated to the girlfriend who has literally saved his life, Angelakos’ album covers the gloomy themes of suicide, the meaning of life, love as cannibalism, isolation and mental illness with gentle playfulness and eerie beauty.
Angelakos has a perfect pop voice that sounds right at home skipping over the pounding beat of opening track Take A Walk. Though the chorus feels upbeat, it becomes apparent that ‘taking a walk’ is the only way the song’s protagonist has of coping with his situation as his world falls apart. I’ll Be Alright begins with electro chirps and chirrups and is filled with poppy ‘whoa-oh-ohs’ and the musical equivalents of cartoon bluebirds. Beneath this sweet canopy the tortured Angelakos advises his girlfriend to leave him so she can find a better love. “I won’t let you go loveless”, he promises. Constant Conversations opens with a ‘come hither’ r&b beat and breathy ‘ahhhs’. This track really showcases Angelakos’ high, pure voice. This song could be about his oft-expressed feeling that he’s living on borrowed time.
Many of these songs cover Angelakos’s fractured state of mind, but instead of being cloying or repetitive, each is presented as a perfect individual story. Beneath the bouncy pop sounds, darker undertones hint at inner turmoil. On Mirrored Sea the lyrics “everyone’s alone” are repeated robotically, and Cry Like A Ghost begins with an unearthly electronic scream. This song opens up into an epic, multi-layered masterpiece that is one of the best on the album. “Sylvia, right back where you came from, you’re a pendulum, heartbroken and numb” he sings. ‘Sylvia’ could be a girlfriend, a wayward friend or a self-destructive part of himself. The hyper romantic On My Way begins with an otherworldly moan and turns into a hopeful song that acknowledges and celebrates a messy love affair. On this track and the final song Where We Belong, Angelakos finally allows his perfect voice to crack, and deep emotion flows through the fissures. Orchestral elements and complex backing vocals add drama and beauty to a dramatic and beautiful album.
Angelaskos walks his talk, and has just cancelled a tour in order to “improve his mental health”. Let’s hope the gems keep on coming from this gifted, tortured soul.
You might want to link to this interesting article: http://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/passion-pit/
Kathryn van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.com
Click here to listen to On My Way from Gossamer: