Following up on their cult-followed and electric debut album Manners, Passion Pit enhances their sound with a sunnier, synth-poppy ambience that blooms early and often on Gossamer. Soul is the operative word here, whether it’s the experimentations on tracks like “Constant Conversations” or the incredible infusion of emotion felt throughout the album, listeners will feel it in their gut as well as their ears. This is an album realized out of struggle and perseverance, both of the creative and personal side. That being said, Gossamer is a triumph rather than a surrender; not quite coloring outside the lines as much as their prior work, and yet offering listeners a spoonful of sugary synth-pop alongside the medicine of harsh realties while riding coattails of buoyant synthesizers.
Track one, “Take A Walk” kicks off the album with high intensity. Telling a story of struggle and hardship in America, the song’s muscular bass, drums and pulsing synthetic melodies heighten anticipation and give fans and listeners plenty of satisfaction from the start. This high-energy approach extends through tracks like “I’ll Be Alright” and the deceptively joyful “Carried Away.” The dabbling and experimentation begin on “Constant Conversations,” which mixes a soulful R&B vibe with slightly auto-tuned vocals. Its lyrics dabble in the world of regret for wounds inflicted on a significant other:
This track in particular stands out due to its asymmetrical and subtly improvisational vocal lines, buffeted by a raw sense of vulnerability. Taken in stride with another track “Cry Like A Ghost,” they step outside of their comfort zone and add a different element of brow-raising fun to the record.
While Gossamer marries an unvarnished and unpretentious display of emotion to subtle lyrics with electric energy, there is also a feeling as the record plays out that this could also very easily be an extension of Manners, their first record. Sophomore albums to successful debuts, much like sequels to box office hits, face high expectations, and with Passion Pit moving from indie darling Frenchkiss Records to Columbia only heightens that tension. With Gossamer, a solid contribution to their sonic aesthetic is made while building on a firm foundation of innovation and fun. The rhythm and flow of the record also follows a steady and enjoyable progression from the heights of electronic intensity to the valleys of their later cathartic-reliant song constructions.
No matter what the lyrics may read, these melodies are meant to lift the listener’s spirits. The latter half of the album is more attuned to what listeners found and enjoyed on Manners. Tracks like “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” and “Love Is Greed” are anthemic and contemplative, though attached to simple vocal lines and swirling techno flourishes.
This album is more than an investment in unique and innovative music, it’s a barometer for where synth-rock has come and where it is headed. Treading in musical footsteps similar to those of Miike Snow, with similar synth-laden melodies and alternating tempos, Passion Pit isn’t truly breaking new ground on Gossamer. They are, however, taking a step forward in craftsmanship, genre-bending experimentation and delivering once again a powerful and enjoyable album experience.