Passion Pit – Kindred
Passion Pit’s ascent to success has been a gradual one. He’s been crafting his style for quite some time now, utilising vocal effects and bouncy synths to create idiosyncratic pop music. On their new album they amp up the melodic side of it to create one of their most bizzare yet accessible albums to date.
Lyrically this new album sees the band dive deeper into lyrical themes than before, with the entire album revolving round themes to do with family. On this album their lead singer, Michael Angelakos talks about his relationship with his brother, his wife and some of the things that lead to the man to become depressed a few years ago. These themes are all wrapped up in this bubblegum mixture that he’s been working on for years now that seems to have influenced so many people in popular music. The moments on this album where he tones down the bits of fluff stuck round the edges on this album really stick like on the track ‘Whole Life Story’ which is an apology letter to his wife for the pressure that was put on their relationship when he found success with his music. The song is sickly sweet but tolerable and really sounds great when juxtaposed with the sincere lyrics. Elsewhere it works on the songs that capture Passion Pit’s ability to put together songs that are anthemic such as the album opener ‘Lifted Up (1985)’ and ‘Until We Can’t (Let’s Go)’.
The problems come in the tracks where the love of effects becomes over-bearing like on the track ‘Ten Feet Tall (II)’ which is ruined by the vocal effects that completely smother the track. Elsewhere the actual instrumentation itself can become redundant and dull when they do decide to turn down the effects like on the track ‘Looks Like Rain’. Passion Pit have a clear concept and goal for this album, they just stumble over and over again on the execution in making many of the tracks hit emotionally.
Best Tracks: Lifted Up (1985), Until We Can’t (Let’s Go), Whole Life Story
Akala – Knowledge Is Power Vol 2
The self proclaimed ‘Black Shakespeare’ released a new album entitled ‘Knowledge Is Power Part 2’ at the end of March with little-to-no recognition. At this point in Akala’s career it’s baffling that in a time where political Hip-Hop is making a come back in a big way, that London’s biggest political thinker in music releases material to no acclaim.
It’s not like this man can’t rap either; on the opening track to this album ‘Mr Fire In The Booth’ Akala spits bars with an extremely elastic flow that should, in theory, capture the hearts of people that find it difficult to get into the harsh blunt way in which Grime artists flow. The production on here features live instrumentals as well as some interesting uses of samples. On the track ‘Sovereign Master’ he samples intense strings that sound sinister and gloomy whereas on the track ‘Sometimes’ he tries to capture that classic boom-bap sound on one of the more laid back tracks on the album. In some ways it’s slightly detrimental to the cohesiveness of the album, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s been thrown together.
Akala has always been so big on leaning on his politics when he raps and he doesn’t hold back at all on this album. ‘In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue/Being the cunt he was, the genocide that ensued/Was half a millennia of permanent blood bath/Today we celebrate the rapist and his fucked up past’ he sings on the track ‘The Fall’ in one of the many connections he makes from the UK to the US. He doesn’t want to talk about issues exclusive to him, he desperately wants to talk on a larger scale and does frequently with this album being lyrically dense. But perhaps it’s because of the fact that he’s so blatant with the way in which he talks about his politics that so many people will be turned off; he doesn’t mask any of his politics with an overarching story or subtle way of putting it. He just gives us some questions to ponder over, and occasionally he’ll give us little-to-no room to interpret them for ourselves.
Best Tracks: The Fall, Sovereign Master, Murder Runs The Globe