Passion Pit

Usually when it’s time for a musician to make a deeply emotional album that confronts depression and personal demons, the music mirrors the mind-set. It’s dark, slow and often a drag. With “Gossamer,” his second album as leader of Passion Pit, Michael Angelakos doesn’t just turn this conventional wisdom on its head; he spins it into a hyperactive electro-soul-pop kaleidoscope that transforms paralyzing self-doubt into club-thumping anthems.

“Gossamer” is an impressive second outing for an act that was pushed into the spotlight a little prematurely based on 2008’s viral hit “Sleepyhead.” Angelakos hasn’t abandoned that song’s homespun, laptop charm, but he’s definitely expanded and refined it. Each of these 12 songs has a sustained burst that gets the heart racing, even if the seratonin levels are inconsistent. The chorus of “Carried Away” is as exuberant as a Kidz Bop song, as Angelakos wages a battle himself (“I get carried away, carried away, from you/ When I’m open and afraid/ Cause I’m sorry, sorry ’bout that/ Sorry ’bout things that I’ve said”). “Sorry I couldn’t be there, I was tied to a rocking chair/ I was beat down to a pulp rocking back and forth somewhere,” begins “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy,” which eventually lifts off to a lighter-waving chorus.

Angelakos is not the first person to juxtapose cheery songs with downtrodden lyrics, and his words are more notable for their confessional nature than true insight. (He also has a surprisingly smooth high-pitched croon.) The 25-year-old’s unique strength as a songwriter is creating songs that are jam-packed with sonic exploration while avoiding clutter and treating soaring hooks as the most important element. You’d never guess it by a quick read-through of the lyrics, but “Gossamer” is a self-assured victory of an album.

— David Malitz

Recommended Tracks

“Carried Away,” “Gossamer,”
“Cry Like a Ghost”