Passion Pit - Kindred - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Passion Pit - Kindred

by Justin Pearson Rating:8.5 Release Date:2015-05-05

Passion Pit is synonymous with consistent, infectious pop music that covers deeper meaning with a signature, gloss-borne execution. It should come as no surprise then that latest album Kindred not only continues this tradition, but rounds it off with a conservative sharpness. There's a raw honesty that's ultimately hopeful paired with a refinement in sound, both culled from an already strong - although meager in quantity - back-catalogue.

A clean, clear album that asks only to be taken on its own terms, Kindred is ready to be embraced by anyone who appreciates a bright spot amid a sometimes boring, repetitive music scene. This is pure pop music reminiscent of the 80s, complete with both appeal and substance.

With Passion Pit's confessional progenitor Michael Angelakos at the helm, Kindred charts the waters of life, love and family. The autobiographical nature of the album grounds the lightweight quality of the music. Instead of the usual short-term nature of most current pop, there's an unforgettable sweetness and openness that keeps these songs in your memory.

This is evident from album opener 'Lifted Up (1985)'. It's a happy, jaunty ode to Angelakos' wife that's as touching as anything you're likely to hear this year. It's hard not to smile as he sings "1985 was a good year/ The sky broke apart then you appeared."

The cotton candy ease of 'Where the Sky Hangs' hides a plea for understanding within a relationship and the power that it can hold on one's emotional well-being. One of the most sing-along choruses on the album, Angelakos begs with all his heart: "I get caught up in your heartstrings... Just don't make me go."

'Until We Can't (Let's Go)' strikes a perfect balance between the big pop Passion Pit are known for and the kind of temperance that's all over this album. The verses gently build to the fist-pounding chorus, becoming an addicting anthem of decisiveness each time Angelakos wails it out. Happiness is a choice, and being proactive about it is the message: "We both know we're suffocating/ Let's go out and find ourselves a home."

Simple and pure, 'Looks Like Rain' is a shining example of the happy music/sad lyric contrast that is a Passion Pit trademark by now. The melody patters with hope even under the impending, persistent cloud that colors it gray. It's executed so well, you hardly notice its theme of defeat. After hearing it, it's easy to find yourself repeating the defiant refrain: "Go away/ You can come back some other day".

'My Brother Taught Me How to Swim' hints at a kind of Christ-like redemptiveness Angelakos sees in his brother. The swimming lesson referred to in the song can be seen as both real and as a metaphor: "And then he washed away my sins/ He held me closer as the tide was coming in". 

When Angelakos admits to getting "lost" - either in the ocean or in life - it's clear his brother is the rock that steadies him. As serious and moving as the lyrics are, once again the Passion Pit brand of bouncy is used to disguise (or augment, depending on your perception) matters close to the heart. This one is meant for both the dancefloor and life's familial pulse.

Highlighting the passion intrinsic in his band's name and catapulting it with an upward finesse, Michael Angelakos has never sounded as sure of himself as he does here. An exercise in succinctness, Kindred's brief length and clearly punctuated sentiments make it a true - and lasting - pop album that stands as an exclamation point within Passion Pit's discography.

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