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Passion (is the) Pit(s)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Passion Pit’s album Gossamer is a critical and alternative darling. I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

First off, I bought Gossamer on eMusic. Although I buy lots of music, rare is the album purchased without conviction and confidence. Reviews are researched. Samples are digested. The urge for instant gratification is almost always delayed. Second, the human who spends money on something merely to take a dump on it is a twisted, sick human. I’ve got better things to do with my somewhat limited financial resources than use it to be mean to someone.

But Gossamer just ain’t that good.

The Onion’s A/V Club, the news satire’s serious media critique offshoot, gave the album a gushing A-. In it, they describe Passion Pit’s sound this way: “the musical equivalent of staring straight at the sun for 45 minutes.” Best I can tell, they mean this to be a compliment, as if humanity could achieve true and pure happiness if only they could stare into the sun for the length of an entire album.

Well, Gossamer is the musical equivalent of staring straight at the sun for 45 minutes. The only way to do accomplish said feat is to have gone friggin’ blind 10 minutes into the experience. It’s like shotgunning a case of 5-Hour Energy drinks or being locked in a room and forced to eat 1,000 Sour Straws in 45 minutes.

I’m the first to admit I was drawn to the story of Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit’s soul. Between his debut and Gossamer, Angelakos attempted suicide and, thankfully, survived. He said in a Pitchfork interview, “I’ve told people that I don’t see myself living very long. That really upsets them, but I’m just being honest.”

I hesitated writing this review, because who wants to take a dump on a guy who, between a continuing drug addiction and mental issues, could be one crappy review away from leaping off a bridge? But then I scrolled to the end of his Metacritic reviews, and plenty of respectable music outlets have offered up harsh opinions.

Further, in small doses -- say, 30-second samples or, if I’m feeling generous, three-quarters of a given song -- Passion Pit is almost digestible. If I were 13 and lived on a diet of Cheerwine and Fun Dip, I could probably swallow this music. But I’m all grownsed up now. I buy my sodas in 8oz cans or bottles and rarely eat candy unless I’m road tripping.

His voice often sounds like a poor version of Prince falsetto, and he’s singing over some post-modern version of the Pet Shop Boys. While those are decent idols for a musician, the result is just not good.

And hell, I’ve tried and tried. Even as I type this, I’ve listened to the entire album again (I’m currently finishing “Hideaway,” which might well be the best song on the album), desperate to find a reason not to be so mean.

Maybe, with a little more time to get past the disappointment and “WTF is the big deal” reaction to this album, I might throw a Passion Pit song on a few mix CDs to see what others think of a single song, isolated and removed from the sugary avalanche of the entire album. Perhaps surrounded by other sounds, other styles, it could be a nice and refreshing break.

But as an album, Gossamer isn’t very good. Unless you’re the kind of person who longs to stare into the sun for 45 minutes.

The video for "I'll Be Alright" is delightfully freaky, though. Almost makes the song palatable.

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