Is Michael Angelakos in a hurry? That’s the question to ask when listening to his indietronica band Passion Pit’s new release, Kindred. The album clocks in at just under 40 minutes with ten succinct tracks and is packed with reverberated percussion, multi-tracked choruses, and a variety of sentimental hooks and beats, a familiar follow-up to their 2012 effort Gossamer.
The pace seems deliberate and almost every song is an up-tempo cacophony of ultra-saturation. The band has found and fine-tuned their sound over the past three years, and they don’t mind showing off their propensity for triumphant ballads, opening Kindred with the cheerfully excellent “Lifted Up (1985),” an emphatic tribute to self-affirmation.
But Angelakos, who has been open about his battles with bipolar disorder and depression, skillfully layers the album with complexity amid the confident melodies and, at times, electronic chaos. I recommend skipping the final track, “Ten Feet Tall (II),” which deserves a plaque in the Hall of Auto-Tune Infamy (sorry, Game!) but nearly every other sing is constructed with an admirable brevity and buoyancy. The lyrics personify the struggle of breaking through pain and the joy of companionship and several of the songs are influenced by Angelakos’ recent marriage. On “Where The Sky Hangs” he sings, “I step up and take it, but I fall to the side/ I’ve got somebody else just to keep me on my toes again” over a direct, patient bass line that evokes the best of 1980’s synth-pop.
With all their keyboard whooshes and Angelakos’ piercing falsetto, Passion Pit can occasionally wander into the exhausting territory of over-produced pop-melodrama. But Kindred shows that they have found a way to commit to the tension of delivering personal ideas amid universal rhythms. In a year where many artists are wearing their hearts on their sleeves, it’s nice to have a band that doesn’t indulge too deeply and gets right to the point. They know your time is precious.