There are few albums that are as good and catchy as Passion Pit’s “Gossamer.” Like Passion Pit’s debut, listeners might tap their feet less enthusiastically once they stop and listen to the lyrics. This was a cute trick on their first album, mainly because the depressing themes in the songs were generally veiled behind clever lyrics that required some work to decipher. On the new album, though, front man Michael Angelakos hits the listener over the head with his depression in every song. If the lyrics were well written and thought provoking, it would be nice to stop dancing and listen to them. They are not, so the best advice to give listeners of this album is to stop thinking about it and keep on dancing.
It is not fair to tell Angelakos that he cannot make happy music with depressing lyrics. It is fair to say that if these lyrics were isolated from his songs, they would belong in some high school kid’s notebook immediately after his girlfriend dumped him. One of the more overt examples of this is in the song “Love is Greed” where Angelakos asks “If we really love ourselves / how do you love somebody else?” To make this juvenile lyric worse is the fact that it is enunciated in the song by an even higher than normal falsetto from Angelakos. He is acting as though he has just pointed out some earth shattering idea to listeners. This falls in line with the teenager metaphor, since most people generally mature past being so self-centered around the same time they stop slamming doors in their parents’ faces. It is one of the worst lyrical songs on the album, but evidence of lazy song writing is everywhere. Even on this summer’s hit single, “Take a Walk,” Angelakos makes a confusing, if not disturbing, lyrical jump. In the middle of describing financial hardship in America, he sings “Honey it’s your son” a few lines before declaring “And tonight I swear I’ll come home / And we’ll make love like we’re young.” It is likely Angelakos got tired of trying to fit in two separate verses rather than considering the implications of an Oedipus complex.
The one exception to all of this is the song “I’ll Be Alright.” Here, Angelakos successfully captures the disappointments that young adults often find in revisiting, and hence reanalyzing, old memories. Furthermore, this is one of the few songs where the beat of the song does not distract from the lyrics. When he asks “Can you remember ever having any fun? / ‘Cause when it’s all said and done / I always believed we were / But now I’m not so sure…” he seems to sympathize with listeners of his own music who might have accepted his songs at face value, without regard to their depressing undertones. It is one of his only songs that seem both honest and compelling.
In the middle of “Love Is Greed,” Angelakos summarizes the lyrical journey of his own album when he claims “All this talk of love just turns to noise.” Indeed, this album is filled with songs that take listeners into the somewhat twisted mind of Angelakos’s, but at the end of this journey, most listeners will be left questioning whether or not it was all worth it. At a certain point, all of Angelakos’s lyrics simply become depressing noise.