Donald Trump is all over pop culture like a rash at the minute, and it perhaps harkens back to the conservative years gone-by of the likes of Thatcher and Reagan where a subculture broke through into the mainstream off the back of widespread dissatisfaction with public life in general.
Passion Pit’s latest effort, straddling the lines between an album and an experimental EP, takes its name from a Trump campaign rally quote, but it is decidedly apolitical in its focus. And its perhaps that detachment from life as we know it that makes it so good.
The last two Passion Pit albums, Gossamer and Kindred, were both very polished electronica ventures with heartfelt lyrics but lacking the punch and excitement that debut album Manners brought. Here, the tone is much more in the form of Manners, with the first half of the album drawing heavily from the upbeat synths and strains that made that album so memorable.
Songs like “Inner Dialogue” and “Moonbeam” are the best on the album when they’re in their flow, as they zip around making the happiest of sounds – not relying on the crutch of vocals to get across a message of positivity.
Then you have songs like “Undertow” and “Somewhere Up There”, where the traditional Passion Pit messages of love and connection come in with Michael Angelakos singing over them in his signature falsetto. They’re great songs and much in the vein that we know from Passion Pit.
The nature of this album though, being 8 individual singles released in quick succession under the same banner, is that things aren’t quite as connected as you’d expect. “Somewhere Up There” in particular is a strange one, cutting into spoken word Freudian analysis and a voicemail from Angelakos’ mother during its 6-minute span. Fun songs like “Moonbeam” are limited to 2-minute interludes, and “Undertow” itself is rather messy too, never quite deciding what kind of song it wants to be.
Then two songs on the album take a slow and waltzy tone, being classic love songs that sound solid, but might become a little forgettable in the grand scheme of the album.
Perhaps the song that stands out, as its own real imprint of what Tremendous Sea of Love is, was “I’m Perfect”. Angelakos uses a remarkably different, but still strong, tone of voice and sings an upbeat, fun Passion Pit-style song that sounds plenty different but still familiar.
All-in-all TSOL is a good outing or Passion Pit, save for the last self-titled instrumental that does very little in terms of melody or otherwise, being a good collection of fun songs that could easily be enough for a tour and another chapter in the band’s evolving nature.
If Trump-fatigue is getting to you, Passion Pit have come up with a cure. Give it a listen below, and who knows – maybe there’ll be more to come this year from this staple of electronica.