Passion Pit’s 2009 debut, Manners, had a childlike approach to music. The album’s Technicolor electropop felt akin to messy fingerpainting experiments, with its sing-song vocals, playground-joyful keyboards and squirrelly synth effects. Gossamer isn’t quite as playful, but that’s a good thing: The album’s forays into slinky R&B (“Constant Conversations”), sleek Swedish indiepop (“Cry Like A Ghost”), neon new wave (“Carried Away”) and Disney-movie whimsy (“On My Way”) evince more depth. The songs themselves are also rich with detail, from the music-box-gone-mad twinkles at the start of “Love Is Greed” to the warm background coos from Swedish a cappella group Erato that are sprinkled throughout.
Gossamer‘s lyrics reflect this measured, meticulous approach, addressing fragile romance, fallible humanity and love’s sweet simplicity. “I’ll Be Alright,” on which a soaring pop lilt gets mussed by what sounds like a malfunctioning cassette, chooses optimism in the face of self-loathing: “I’ve made so many messes/And this love has grown so restless/ I won’t let you go the mess/ I’ll be alright,” sings vocalist Michael Angelakos. “Where We Belong” channels James Blake by way of BjÃ¶rk, grafting Angelakos’s harrowing falsetto to glitchy programming and sweeping strings as he delivers aching sentiments: “But I believe in you/ Do you believe in me, too?”
For Angelakos, uncluttered headspace is a luxury — and, judging by his well-documented struggles, it doesn’t come easy. However, his willingness to address this entire emotional continuum, while still maintaining Passion Pit’s sense of adventure, makes Gossamer a win.