Kindred, the latest from Passion Pit, has bad lyrics, generally homogenous songwriting, and a slightly overwhelming, at least for a full album, maximalist production aesthetic. All that being said, this is still a pretty enjoyable record. Why, you might ask. Because Michael Angelakos has one of the best damn voices in the game right now. The shiniest, elastic falsetto you’ve heard outside of an Earth Wind & Fire song. Couple that with an extremely tastefully used auto-tune, which Angelakos doesn’t really need, as evidenced by the acoustic version of “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim,” and you have not only one of the best voices out there, but also one of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable.
Throughout the album, Angelakos takes that rubber-band voice of his and layers it over an expansive array of stadium ready synths. The tracks are a bit vapid, but when the chorus of “Lifted Up” kicks in, you can’t help but tap your feet. Similarly, if you can make it past the lyrics of “Dancing On The Grave” – an exercise of how many cliches one can fit into a three and a half minute period – you can’t help but be moved by the simple chord structure, the now trademark Passion Pit synths, and, of course, Angelakos’s soaring and sometimes, a bit androgynous falsetto.
Listen to one song, or all of them, and they all sound a bit the same. Decent, but the same. The real gem on this album comes on the final bonus track. On “Looks Like Rain – Live Multi-Synth Performance” we hear Passion Pit playing a bit of a stripped down version of the best studio cut from the album.
The meticulously crafted synths are still there, as is the danceability, but there’s an edge to the performance that you don’t get on the album proper. There are a few crackles in Angelakos’s voice, the production’s otherwise beaming sheen comes across a bit darker. It’s the kind of small thing that gives Passion Pit a more human element, an element they are so often lacking.Shiny things are nice to look at for a time, but eventually they grow dull. Rough them up a bit however, give them some cracks, and they regain some of that seductiveness that drew you towards them in the first place.