Showing posts with label passion pit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label passion pit. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

video review: 'kindred' by passion pit

Man, I could have done without covering this. I suspect the shitstorm won't be huge, but you never know these days. On the plus side, I did get a chance to catch up on a bit of my back catalogue today, which was nice.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, Lower Dens, Alabama Shakes, and Sufjan Stevens, so stay tuned!

album review: 'kindred' by passion pit

So let me clue you all in to one of the biggest 'tricks' surrounding indie pop, and where it can have an easy path to critical acclaim with a similar sound to what's subsequently derided in the mainstream. Simple enough trick, but it works a lot more often than you think: tonal subversion. Basically how it works is a shift in the tone or content of your lyrics in comparison to that of your music - shifting the acid high to the acid freakout, a song with a generally cheery tone being about death, you get the picture. If you trace your way through the indie scene and especially indie pop, you see a lot of this. Take the typical pop framework and use it to package lyrics that might not be all that exceptional with a similar tone, but make the instrumentation go in the opposite direction and suddenly people will really start taking notice.

Now of course there's a scale of quality to this, because there are plenty of acts who go against the tone of their instrumentation lyrically and have the skill as writers to pull it off. But if we're looking for an act who has gone to this well more aggressively and consistently than nearly any other indie pop act, I'd point to Passion Pit, an indie pop band that I've liked but never quite loved that exploded in 2009 with their breakout hit Manners. And let's make this clear, I'm not really a fan of Manners as a whole - going back to it, the chiptune production and sugar-sweet instrumentation hasn't precisely aged well, and Michael Angelakos' shrill, breathy voice could start to grate on my nerves, especially considering how bleak the lyrics often got. They nailed the balance a lot better on Gossamer in 2012, swapping out pure sugar for a more opulent and varied presentation, and Angelakos' delivery didn't feel as one-dimensional - just as earnest but you could tell there was other emotions boiling behind the surface, holding on by a thread as frail and precarious as its title.

Well, turns out there was a reason for that dichotomy - Angelakos had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and after a year of cancelled tours and therapy, things seemed to have finally righted themselves, with Angelakos replacing his entire live band and bringing in a new producer: Benny Blanco, the writer/producer known for churning out some of the biggest hits of the early 2010s for Kesha, Katy Perry, and Maroon 5. To see him on a Passion Pit album seemed to imply that they'd probably be going in a much more commercial direction... did we get that with Kindred?