Despite the album’s optimistic sounds and upbeat rhythms, Passion Pit’s sophomore album is no walk in the park. However, it definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Released Tuesday, the album begins with the intoxicating, catchy single “Take A Walk.” Despite the track’s tale of a young family struggling financially, it manages to make me picture some of the happiest moments of my life. The pulsating beat and repetition of the words “take a walk” in the hook could stay stuck in my head for days, and I welcome it.
The album carries on with energetic dance-hall beats that almost mask the heartbreaking story unfolding through frontman Michael Angelakos’ voice. There is pain beneath the easygoing nature of the music, notably in the beautiful “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy.” Angelakos sings, “Sorry I couldn’t be there / I was tied to a rocking chair / I was beat down to a pulp rocking back and forth somewhere / If you knew / If you saw / You’d have said it was the final straw.” The lyrics sound like an apologetic institutionalized patient, writing to his distressed, tired lover.
Angelakos has spoken of his history of mental illness in the past, including his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. His lyrics frame this and other heavy subjects such as alcoholism, which comes across in “Constant Conversations” with lyrics such as, “And now I’m drunker than before they / Told me drinking doesn’t make me nice.”
“I’ll Be Alright,” the album’s second track and second single, following “Take A Walk,” is one of the album’s best. The hurried punch of sounds introducing the song lead into another powerful track that fools the listener with an illusion of happiness if you don’t examine it too closely. However, lyrics such as, “I’m so self loathing that it’s hard for me to see / Reality from what I dream / And no one believes me / No not a single thing,” describe feeling trapped, with no one able to understand the narrator.
Throughout the album there is a sense of pure honesty, as if we are gaining a glimpse into the life of the narrator through his bedroom window. We don’t get the whole story, I’m sure, but we do hear an honest account of pain, even if it is masked by what Passion Pit does best: creating head-nodding, body-swaying, deeply enjoyable and energetic music.
The album’s final words, concluding the track “Where We Belong,” are, “All I’ve ever wanted was to be able to make you proud.” I don’t think there could be more perfect words to conclude the album. They are powerful, and just about everyone can relate to the feeling. I think it ties the struggles revealed in the previous tracks together as nicely as anything could, leaving the listener wondering if the narrator’s struggles take root in the desire to please someone else.
I hope the band is proud of its long-awaited and brilliantly created second studio album. All 12 tracks are worth a listen, and I think you’ll find yourself smiling through the pain in these songs.