Passion Pit Gossamer (Columbia)
Three years in the making, Michael Angelakos’ major-label debut is held together, as its title suggests, by a palpable yet heady thematic thread. Gossamer glimmers with the confessional awareness that life’s shortness is both a blessing and curse, sweet light and chaotic darkness. This is the year’s best electropop release, from the brightly sliced-and-spliced beats of “I’ll Be Alright” to the drum kit-bashing M83 marzipan of “Mirrored Sea” to the jacked-up Mariah Carey R&B of “Cry Like a Ghost.” A solid disc. ★★★★☆
The Gaslight Anthem Handwritten (Mercury)
This New Brunswick band’s New Jersey shows on every track of its fourth album. You hear the Boss in singer Brian Fallon’s blue-collar yowl, Bon Jovi in guitarist Alex Rosamilia’s grandiose leads and Danzig in the rhythm section’s earnest onslaught. The affected punk tone would fit on Christian radio, including the title track, in which Fallon announces I’m in love with the way/you’re in love with the night. By the seventh cut, “Howl,” Gaslight runs out of gas, coasting on three-chord fumes. ★★☆☆☆
Kirby Krackle Live in Seattle (Self-released)
After abandoning novelty status with 2011’s ambitious Super Powered Love, songwriting duo Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos return a year later with a full-band live set recorded in February at Hard Rock Seattle as part of the band’s annual Kracklefest nerd-rock gathering. Singer/guitarist Stevens proves a natural-born performer (in addition to being a studio wiz) on “Great Lakes Avengers,” about a minor league superhero team, and during his flawless take on A-ha’s MTV comics operetta “Take on Me.” The Krackle’s guitars have never crackled so confidently. ★★★☆☆
Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …
AUG. 14: The most hated band in the world, Insane Clown Posse, returns with their (holy shit!) 12th album, The Mighty Death Pop!, and just to make you hate these juggalos more, they’re releasing three different versions of the same 17 tracks (with different bonus materials)—Red Pop, White Pop and Blue Pop. AUG. 21: Expect a few curveballs from Brooklyn electronica trio Yeasayer’s new album, Fragrant World—live drums, talk boxes and a few pop moments. AUG. 28: The man with the haunting baritone, Sean Rowe returns with his second disc for the ANTI- label, The Salesman and the Shark, a personal and genre-stretching best.