The first Passion Pit record since Michael Angelakos severed all ties with his one-time bandmates, essentially reducing the Massachusetts quintet to a solo vehicle, Kindred sees the falsetto-voiced frontman once again combine effervescent synth-pop with cathartic confessionals.
It’s an intriguing contrast which has already seen his pet project rise from cult heroes to the upper reaches of the Billboard charts – predecessor Gossamer peaked at No.4 back in 2012 – and there’s plenty on its follow-up to suggest that Angelakos’ musical therapy sessions will attract a similarly large number of attentive listeners.
Co-produced by hitmaker Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Britney Spears), the colorful synths, stomping beats and joyous melodies of lead single “Lifted Up (1985)” provide a glorious ode to the wife who stuck by him throughout his various personal troubles. His loyal spouse also receives an apology for the public manner in which Angelakos dealt with his bipolar disorder and substance abuse issues on the equally infectious “Whole Life Story.” Elsewhere, legendary film composer Hans Zimmer unexpectedly lends a hand on the slightly manic Sleigh Bells-esque “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go).”
Of course, Passion Pit’s natural exuberance can start to become a little exhausting over the course of an entire record. The likes of “Five Foot Tall (I),” an admission of Angelakos’ physical insecurities, and the similarly-themed and heavily autotuned closer “Ten Feet Tall (II)” make Kindred feel like it’s OD’d on E numbers.
There are a handful of tracks in which Angelakos attempts at least some semblance of restraint, such as the gentle harp-led lullaby of “Looks Like Rain” and the dreamy atmospherics of “Dancing On The Grave,” although both are still punctuated by his signature skyscraping yelps.
But few turn to Passion Pit for subtlety, and although Kindred is perhaps best enjoyed in small doses, it’s a largely addictive one-man show which proves that few can make tragedy sound so utterly joyous.