Favourites: Tremendous Sea of Love, Hey K, Somewhere Up There
Michael Angelakos is the eccentric, and completely out-on-the-table frontman behind “Passion Pit”. From discussing his personal struggles with mental health, casually coming out of the closet in a Podcast with Bret Easton Ellis, to publically live streaming an electromagnetic brain treatment in hopes to cure his mental illness, it is clear that Michael is comfortable in the spotlight, and has nothing to hide from the masses, and you can notice his personality brush off very prominently in his music, and especially on this new record.
If you were like me, then you haven’t been following what Passion Pit has been doing lately (They released this album in March, and just “officially” released it a couple of days ago.). You’ll be interested in knowing that all of the songs on this album hadn’t been thought out for a long duration of time, because Michael and the band decided to take the unplanned approach, and focus on the current feelings they were having. They wrote and recorded most of these songs within the same day, and then released them on social media that same night. The band wanted fans to share the joyful sensation of progression with writing an album, rather than consuming a final product and taking it for what was already conceptualized, so this way the fans could connect to the album at a much more personal and collaborative place. Does this innovative approach on writing and releasing music work out for Passion Pit? Is the music on this album even any good?? I really liked Passion Pit in high school listening to their albums “Manners” and “Gossamer”, but haven’t listened to them since around 2012 when Gossamer was released. I’m excited to check this project out after reading about how it was made, and Michael overcoming his personal but well-known inner demons.
“Tremendous Sea of Love” (which is a quote from one of Trump’s speeches by the way), starts off with the instrumental “Moonbeam” which is a fruity jungle of chimes, chirping birds, and slowly building synths that seem to personify a sun-rising. This leads into the lengthy, chorus-less song “Somewhere Up There“, Michael states that he wrote this song as a soundtrack for himself for when he goes for strolls through his city. I can vaguely see what he was trying to do with the song in that context, as the song is a kind of exploration into new sights from start to finish, starting off with the same vibe “Moonbeam” introduces us to, and easing its way into an ocean of beautiful arpeggiated synth plucks and shiny electronic pads… So I didn’t quite understand how this gave Michael the feeling of walking around a city, to me these sounds bring the listener to an undiscovered land flourishing with living organisms rather than man-made structures…but maybe that’s just me. You can tell right away that Passion Pit aren’t going for their catchy, pop structured music that is prominent in their album “Manners”, but are more focused on the progression of emotion upon your first listen of the album.
“Hey K” is a wonderful, cozy love send-off song about Michael’s former wife Kristina Mucci, or “K”. “He will love you till the end of time”, it seems Michael is hoping for the best for K, and wants to let her know that her future is bright and full of love, and that wherever they end up in life, he hopes she meets someone perfect for her, insisting “Love is the Answer”. Really liked this tune, it really does warm up your soul upon first listen. “To the Otherside” is a song about Michaels struggles with his toxic, anxious mindset as an artist, and making it to the other side, where anxieties disappear and your mind is clear and content. Michael wrote this song about a time where he was facing anxiety, artistic trauma, and the pressure of being an artist, stating “just because you are an artist does not mean you have to suffer”.
The album sends you into a wormhole of colourful ambience, with sparks of modulated vocals and this sense of being lost in the world on the title track “Tremendous Sea Of Love” or “TSOL” (backwards, Lost, which is very fitting word for this track). Although this song is just another brief instrumental for the album, it was probably my favourite track off the album, it really made me feel like I was lost in this “Sea of Love”. “I’m Perfect” kind of pulls you out of this portal of lost-ness and is a song that has a very confident undertone to it, with its upbeat drumming and sing-along chorus: “Just tell, tell me I’m so damn perfect tell me it all of the time”, the song seems to be Michael coming out of his anxious shell and reminding himself that he’s happy despite his constant anxieties. It’s a refreshing topic for this album, and really pulls you back to sobriety in this very cloudy and ethereal album.
The next track “You Have the Right To” is about taking care of yourself and your mental state, being able to take a break from it all in life, and just kind of taking everything in for what is, and not worrying too much. Its a pretty cookie-cutter, somber lullaby-like track. “Inner Dialogue“was the first track to be released from this album, and also the very first instrumental for the band. This sample heavy track could be labelled as a dance track, but also can be seen as a personification for Michael’s bi-polar thoughts, I feel if you could listen to Michael’s’ thoughts at the time of this record’s production they would sound something like this, scattered and chopped up and generally all over the place. Really enjoyed this track.
Overall, I dig the direction Passion Pit took with this project, it’s a lot more introspective and lyric focused, and also cuts back on the pop songs to give you more meaning and depth to the instrumentals. The album is a bit hard to get into at first, and it can lose your attention fairly easy with its ambient instrumental tracks, so many people who enjoyed their first few records with all of their hits may not be able to enjoy this album for what it is, but I think it’s definitely worth the play through, some great moments on here for sure.