The lastest album from the passion project of Michael Angelakos is a refreshing and lighthearted look at his life after publically admitting to suffering from depression. His previous two albums, Gossamer and Manners, leveraged his happy-pop sound against dark lyrics about his depression and death. On Kindred, he manages to neatly close that chapter off by celebrating being alive and being content with who he is.
The band started as a love letter (now known as his first EP, Chunk of Change) that Angelakos created for his girlfriend. After their breakup not long after, he took his first passion, his music, and began creating albums that explore his personal struggles around depression, debt and death, to name a few.
What made previous album Gossamer so brilliant, was that he could sing dark and intimate lyrics hidden behind a facade of child-like electronics and vocals, perfectly mirroring the themes of the album, which center around his depression and the masks he puts on to hide it.
On Kindred nothing is hidden and he focuses on all the things he should be joyous about: love, family and faith. The candid display of emotions unfortunately results in an album that does not have the eternal appeal that Gossamer has. Gossamer is the album that you can always return to when you feel, as Angelakos puts it, “so self-loathing that its hard to see reality from dreams”. Kindred does not relate as much, but offers comfort in simpler and more direct lyrics.
The songs on Kindred are, for the most part, more withdrawn. The most beautiful moments are often the shortest on Kindred. Contrary to previous albums, these songs often get to the chorus within half a minute, which speaks to the appeal of the album, which is less to the armchair listener and more to the radio listener. That being said, the radio-friendly appeal of the album is not necessarily a negative, as it makes the music less confronting, which some will celebrate and others criticize. His previous hits were appealing because the frantic electronics and fast pace of the songs reflected the chaos in his own mind, making it uniquely introspective. The songs on Kindred have tighter, and often slower, instrumentation which does not immediately speak to the content and themes of the album.
Overall, the album delivers a sprawling and rewarding listen for the first 3 repeats, but thereafter I find myself returning to older material where I feel more comfortable, listening to the uncomforting words of an artist who doesn’t want to be an artist and who just wants to be loved.
Passion Pit – Kindred (Columbia, 2015)