Michael Angelakos and the rest of the crew in Passion Pit are no strangers to creating albums with dark lyrical content that is only further darkened by the off-kilter and upbeat nature of their pop-infused brand of electronica. In a 2012 interview with Pitchfork, Angelakos launched into a massive tell-all regarding his struggle with bipolar disorder and substance abuse – and also how this directly translated into the music he had created with the previous two Passion Pit albums.
Passion Pit may have created their sound based on the haphazard embodiment of the chaos and depression that marked Angelakos’ life at the time. It has been three years since the release of their phenomenal Gossamer, and quite a bit has changed since then. Angelakos got married, has started to cope with his depression, and became an overnight indie-pop sensation. Now he is moving onto the release of Passion Pit’s third album, Kindred, and this marks the beginning of a new chapter for both Passion Pit and himself, as a ray of hopeful sunshine creeps into the music and illuminates it with an optimistic sense of glee.
Kindred, as the title suggests, deals with themes of family relationships and support systems. It is an album that pays homage to the positive role that his family, especially his new wife, have played in helping him come to terms with his depression, and subsequently learning how to manage it in a much better fashion. Gossamer, under the glitz and glamour of the candy-floss indie-pop exterior, was a fly-infested carcass of shattered hopes and dreams that blew straight over the heads of many listeners who could not get past the glistening exterior. This is not the case with Kindred. There may be dark lyrical undertones to the album, but the overall album is as happy as it sounds with its off-kilter drum beats, bouncy synth-lines and sickly sweet exterior.
“Lifted Up (19855)” was one of the first songs we were introduced to from Kindred, and it is fitting that the album should started with the upbeat burst of indietronica that embodies the song alongside the catchy pop elements that find their way onto the song. Its obtrusively sweet lyrics pay homage to his wife and the positive effect that she has had on his life. While the lyrical content may stray into the realms of optimism, there are still moments when they stray into the realm of being unapologetically dark and depressing, such as in “Whole Life Story”, with “Sorry darling / How could you forgive me when our life’s some story out for them to buy?”
While Angelakos may have banished his demons, they do still haunt the fringes of Passion Pit’s sound in the myriad of chaotic production and pop influences that embody Kindred. It may be a positive album, but you have to admire the consistent nature of Agelakos’ song-writing, and the sheer brilliance of the album.