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July 25, 2012 | 10:13 a.m. CST
If the act of breaking down could be made into a physical object, it would be Passion Pit’s Gossamer. The mastermind behind Passion Pit, Michael Angelakos, has personally dealt with some dark issues such as mental illness, alcoholism and suicide, themes that are all explored on the band’s up-tempo yet emotional sophomore effort.
Despite exploring the darkest corners of Angelakos’ life, songs such as “I’ll be Alright” are fit for blasting out of car stereos. The catchy, complex arrangements create a surprising swell of emotion with lyrics such as, “I’m so self-loathing it’s hard for me to see/ Reality from what I dream/And no one believes me/ No not a single thing.”
The R&B-styled track “Constant Conversations” places listeners in the middle of a relationship threatened by alcoholism, and “Cry Like a Ghost” reveals the lyricist awakened after a blackout and hearing what he had unknowingly done. The songs are deeply personal and sometimes difficult to listen to unless the lyrics are ignored. The only track that feels out of place on Gossamer is the first single, “Take a Walk.” A wordy account of an immigrant’s money struggles, it feels odd on a record that is otherwise devoted to self-reflections from Angelakos.
Whereas the band’s 2009 debut album, Manners, sometimes felt like a blur of overused synth beats and ear-ringing falsetto, Gossamer has a welcome variety of sounds that make each track feel distinct from the others. The common thread is that they are all creatively executed under Passion Pit’s signature electro-pop sound. For a struggling man, Angelakos has created a put-together album with complete ideas — even if those ideas document his own downfall.