Michael Angelakos’ emotive reputation precedes him. The Passion Pit front man is also sonically off-the-wall and unpredictable, an uncertainty that clouds the contents of each new album. For Kindred, Angelakos wraps his raging emotions in layers of sound and beats that surround falsetto vocals unmatched in the music industry. The newest, and perhaps most anticipated, album removes yet another filter from his mysterious life in a way that suggests Angelakos is more than ready to reveal the vulnerable facets of his soul.
The album opens with an explosion of optimism that can be heard as much as it is felt throughout all of Kindred. “Lifted Up (1985)” fills you up with helium and euphoria, making the track more physical and lasting than typical anthems. It’s so easy to chant along with, 1985 was a GOOD YEAR, and forget about the troubling past that Angelakos has gone through to produce such intense, raw explanations of what swarms around in his buzzing brain.
It seems like the only way he can properly convey the conflicting feelings and thoughts is by producing the same sensations in his music. Electronic beats and stuttering guitar strums collide in the air as words fly from Angelakos’ mouth in a fury. This is why Passion Pit has such an addictive quality. It’s that sense of anticipation of the next beat and verse that keep listeners hanging on to the roller coaster of Passion Pit’s music.
The magic of Passion Pit isn’t the ever present joyful tones or the cacophonous array of synth beats that fill every empty space in your head. Rather, it is the ability of Angelakos to pair heavy, emotion-laden lyrics with a keyboard symphony that exudes ecstasy. “My Brother Taught Me How to Swim” is an ode to the humbling power of the unconditional love that drives siblings to continue to care about each other long past the point when everyone else has abandoned them. Angelakos uses the basic metaphor of, “My brother taught me how to swim, we treaded water underneath the ocean’s skin,” to quickly (ahem) dive deeper into the religious attributions that water and freedom from burdens have in a place in the orthodoxy of his life.
Kindred is Angelakos’ soul put into music. It’s a reflection of his revelations about not only his life, but also the lives that have influenced him. Humility and well-thought out apologies carry this album up through the realms of just good music to heart wrenching realities that most people refuse to face in their daily, screwed up lives. The transcendent qualities of Passion Pit are wonderfully and artfully woven just behind the superficial layer of sound and loudness that permeates the tracks on Kindred. Angelakos has, once again, set the standard for what songwriting could and should be in a music community that is becoming satisfied with common words and false emotions.