“1985 was a good year,” sings Michael Angelakos on the massive opening single from Passion Pit‘s Kindred. Amid all the disclosures of his bipolar disorder, around all the joyful yelps of songs as big as Lifted Up (1985), that hark back to halcyon seems to be coming from the child staring us dead in the eye on the cover. This is Angelakos addressing his past in the only way he knows how: surrounded by one massive sonic party.
Early on in the record comes Whole Life Story, a song that captures that ethos of today’s Passion Pit. Using a clap-along beat and that trademark featherlight vocal, Angelakos camouflages a rather pointed apology to his partner (“I’m sorry darling, how could you forgive me now?”) and his acceptance of error. It’s a template that follows on the deceptively sweet Where The Sky Hangs and the campfire chorus of All I Want (and toyed with on Ten Feet Tall (II) in all its vocoded madness), where everything builds and soars in quite a comforting and expected way.
But it’s also a template fashioned by Passion Pit over two previous albums, and one that’s hard to fully embrace given its one-note nature. Yes, it feels more remarkable as a Angelakos’s triumph over recent troubles, but the relentless high-register feels like meeting a person who can never seem to switch off. By the time Until We Can’t (Let’s Go) arrives, it sounds like a number of other songs that have gone before it, diluting any impact that those personal revelations might have had. Granted, this isn’t Sufjan Stevens – Angelakos has made it clear that he’s keen to get to a pop chorus as quickly as possible – but for an album that’s supposedly about personal immediacy and blood ties, we deserve to get a bit more from a loved one than just a single dimension.