Gossamer, meaning a filmy substance spun by spiders, is an appropriate title for an album with a sound that aurally manifests the silky, smooth feel of such a material. Keeping the same succinct album naming methods, Gossamer is the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Manners, a project that was initially started as a Valentine’s Day present for lead singer Michael Angelakos’ girlfriend, which would become their debut EP, Chunk of Change.
Although Gossamer finds Passion Pit teaming up once again with producer Chris Zane, the overtones of effervescent electropop are noticeably lacking in comparison to Manners. This much is evident in the first track and single, “Take A Walk,” a jaunty song that finds Angelakos talking in the past tense (as in “took a walk”) rather than the present. The single features lyrics that alternate simultaneously between talk of family and immigration, specifically, “Once I was outside Penn Station/Selling red and white carnations/We were still alone, my wife and I/Before we married, saved my money/Brought my dear wife over/Now I want to bring my family stateside.” Originating from Boston, I suppose both of these subjects are appropriate to Passion Pit’s lyrical content.
The second track and single, “I’ll Be Alright,” bears the closest resemblance to the sound of Manners. Posing the question, “Can you remember having any fun? ‘Cause when it’s all said and done/I always believed we were/But now I’m not so sure.” The reflection on a failed relationship that no longer holds the shiny appeal it used to is illustrated in Angelakos’ urging, “You should go if you want to/Yeah, go if you want to/I’ll be alright.” In spite of the melancholic theme, Passion Pit lends the song an upbeat tempo as only Passion Pit can.
“Carried Away” opens with a beat that would invoke jealousy from the likes of Thomas Dolby and Marc Almond, oozing the melodious new wave tinge of the 80s with no holds barred. Much in the same way that “Take A Walk” does, “I’ll Be Alright” pairs a contrasting tempo with the nature of the lyrics Angelakos sings: “I don’t really know you and I don’t really want to/But I think I can fake it if you can/I get carried away/Carried away from you.” Prone to the vaguely sardonic, “Carried Away” possesses a melody that would make you think Angelakos was waxing on about the deliciousness of soft serve ice cream. The mood switches from lively to ethereal (almost trip hop-like) on the album’s third single, “Constant Conversations.” As the song begins, the vocals showcase a love of self-deprecation with the epiphany, “I’m drunker than before they told me drinking doesn’t make me nice.” This lyric sets the tone for the story of a man who always seems to find himself talking to the object of his affection in a state of drunkenness. But, really, if you’re an intelligent person, you can know no other way of existing.
“Mirrored Sea” picks up the pace of the album again with its otherworldly vibe, using the concept of a mirrored sea as a metaphor for unwanted remembrances: “Mirrored sea/Your waves they’re haunting me/They’re all I see/Oh let me be, you mirrored sea.” In a strange way, it sounds like the doppelganger to “Moth’s Wings.” “Cry Like A Ghost” fittingly bears backing music that sounds like it could be played in a haunted house and continues the overlying theme of blaming alcohol on one’s stupidity with the admission, “And yes, I drank all those drinks on my own/My life’s become some blurry little quest.” The song then segues into a discussion about a girl named Sylvia, haunted by her past (being haunted is another significant motif on Gossamer) as Angelakos notes, “Sylvia, no one’s gonna tell you when enough’s enough.”
“On My Way” explores another common subject on Gossamer: Blame. Cautioning, “Don’t once think this madness is my fault alone,” “On My Way” is one of the most overtly sentimental tracks on the album—without using the guise of a sprightly musical accompaniment. “Hideaway” commences with a scratchy, far-off sounding tone that transitions into something that closely reflects a more upbeat version of “Swimming in the Flood.” The assurance, “Hideaway/Someday everything will be okay” is one of the most exuberant and hopeful messages present on Gossamer.
“Two Veils to Cover My Face” is, incidentally the best interlude on an album since Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake.” With the soft, soothing voice of Angelakos crooning, “ Let the wind sing us our love songs,” among other sweet nothings, you are then rapidly ear raped by the swift shift to the frenetic opening of “Love is Greed,” a song that confirms, “Love has always been a mockery.”
The second to last song, “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy,” bears one of the most overtly uplifting musical auras on Gossamer. “It’s not fair/Still I’m the only one who seems to care” expresses the subtly ironical tenor of the track. Capping off the album with “Where We Belong,” Passion Pit makes an unwitting statement about their own place within the ranks of the music industry, inquiring, “Who says you ought to stay? How’s this the easier way?” Regardless of the subconscious implications of those questions, it seems likely that Passion Pit has plenty more to offer in the future.
While Gossamer may lack the same energetic of songs that were in full effect on their debut, namely “Little Secrets” and “Sleepyhead,” it still exhibits marked signs of maturity, while managing to maintain the band’s playful air.