Compact Review: Passion Pit’s Kindred

Passion Pit – Kindred
Rating: 67/100
Released: April 21, 2015

The most shocking thing about Passion Pit’s third album Kindred is how safe it feels. Their debut album Manners was a manic eruption of falsettos, feelings and synthesizers and the whole things felt like it could collapse at any moment. Even six years after its release, Manners has enough juice to make my heart ache and swell. It’s a modern classic and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. The follow up, Gossamer was bigger, more challenging and no less ambitious than its predecessor. It’s a risky but undeniably satisfying record that expands on the aesthetics of Manners. Unfortunately, their latest effort disrupts their meteoric career trend and falls a bit flat.

Kindred starts and ends very strong. The record opens with the mammoth electro-pop single “Lifted Up (1985)” and it’s classic Passion Pit. With a paradoxical blend of enthusiasm and nostalgia, the song has the anthemic hooks, soaring vocals and synth wizardry that put this band on the map. It’s a great start but the record rapidly loses steam. The first half of the album sounds mostly like songs that didn’t make the cut on Gossamer and it doesn’t perk up again until “Five Foot Ten (I)”, which has some serious pep.

The second half doesn’t fare much better but “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)” and album closer “Ten Feet Tall (II)” make it worth the journey. The former is a massive synth fueled stomp that feels fresh and genuinely energized, and the latter is a majestic electro-soul hymn. Like an interlude on a Kanye album, the crashing cymbals, fuzzy vocoder and cathedral organs of “Ten Feet Tall (II)” make for the most dramatic and captivating two and half minutes of the entire Kindred experience. It’s the only time we hear Passion Pit steer in a new direction and it’s mesmerizing.

The bookends of Kindred are special but the rest of the album lacks the tension of Manners or Gossamer. Nothing on this album comes close to the rise and fall of “Take a Walk” which somehow manages to fit an entire family narrative into a song thats less than five minutes long. This band thrives on drama and there is sadly little to be found here. They’ve built a career around emotional tension and synthesizer gymnastics and Kindred is unimpressively tame and emotionally stable. All griping aside, I still believe in Passion Pit.

Top Tracks: “Lifted Up (1985)”, “Five Foot Ten (I)”, “Ten Feet Tall (II)”

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