Washed in a sugary, silky sonic quiver, “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit quickly became the diaphanous dance-floor hit of 2008. The Boston-based band, originally a literal passion project for frontman and songwriter Michael Angelakos who wanted to create a musical Valentine’s Day gift for his girl, quickly became the progenitors of progressive indie electro-pop.
In the next few years, up-and-coming bands of the same genre would try to mimic Passion Pit’s mix of vulnerability mixed with danceability and phrenic, but not overbearing lyrics.
Three years after their début album Manners was released and became a musical masterpiece oft-mentioned in the blogosphere lexicon, Passion Pit went beyond their pop expansives to something with a hint of R&B dusk at the edges. 2012’s Gossamer was less Prozac-commercial, more opaque without being prosaic.
And despite personal issues, Angelakos once again won over hearts with his signature falsetto and gorgeous singles like “Take A Walk,” “I’ll Be Alright,” and the sultry, Dream-like “Constant Conversations.” Angelakos later said to an audience-member that “I’ll Be Alright” and “Constant Conversations” were his favorite songs from the album because “‘I’ll Be Alright’ involves all these different elements in one song…and it’s an insane song from a production standpoint. There were too many tracks. But ‘Constant Conversation,’ that was off the trail from the typical Passion Pit sound and that was really exciting for us.”
Passion Pit played two of those songs, “Take A Walk” and “Constant Conversations” during their mesmerizing performance at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ, eliciting what has probably been the loudest crowd reaction to date, Passion Pit also played “The Reeling,” “Carried Away,” “Sleepyhead,” and the audience-interactive exalt-pop gem “Little Secrets” that boasts a choral mantra of “higher and higher” that brought fans to a fiery froth.
Unlike some artists, who take their emotional problems and sublimate them into bitter, brash punk diatribes, Passion Pit slaps the universe squarely in the face with a barrage of fun, feather-light percussion and party-provoking glitter. Passion Pit doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
They don’t even care if they are “selling out” in order to be placed in a Taco Bell commercial. The band, who had played at the Hollywood Bowl the night before, told KROQ’s Ted Stryker that “this is totally a different age. A lot of older artists are adamantly against the usage of their music in commercials. They can actually afford to turn that down. But, for us, it might be something like a Taco Bell commercial…”
Passion Pit’s fans cheered before Angelakos could go on.
“Right, so, what does Taco Bell have to do with three of my family members struggling financially…I have no idea,” the frontman confessed. “But, it’s not about that. It’s not about promoting celebrities or giant corporations of anything like that. It’s just airtime…It’s an amazing opportunity. And, honestly, you take what you can get. I say no to about 90 percent of the offers, but we just want people to hear the music at end of the day.”
Though the band does “have standards,” as evidenced from the three years the band took between albums instead of just hopping on the train of their own fame, these standards wouldn’t stop them from entertaining a conversation with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
Passion Pit had just performed at Hova’s music festival in Philadelphia, Made In America, and when asked if they knew him, Angelakos laughed, saying, “We don’t know him personally, but Jay, if you’re listening, I would love to have coffee.”
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles
Passion Pit’s Gossamer is available on Amazon via Columbia Records.