The visual album has become somewhat of a trend in recent history. Some of music’s biggest stars in Beyoncé and Frank Ocean each released one this year. And now, wrapped in a Christmas story starring kids from the Buffalo, New York, prep school he attended back in the day, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos has gifted the world with his version of a visual project.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields was released last week via the newly founded AKH Productions, a venture from Angelakos, Brent Katz of Harlem Shakes and director Hana Haley. The 44-minute video can be found on YouTube, and its original soundtrack is available on your favorite streaming service. The story is set in a 1940s London jazz club, full of jolly patrons whose fun suddenly gets broken up by German bombings.
I’ve never been one for music videos, and as a pretty big Passion Pit fan I’d be lying if 44 minutes of children who are far from Oscar winners is something I’m actively looking for from Angelakos. It’s slightly off-putting to hear his usual high vocals synced with the lips of a 12-yea-old girl. That being said, the film isn’t bad by any means. And the fact that it was shot in just four days speaks to how quickly AKH was able to realize the vision they took into it.
But Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields isn’t some wintery project just for the sake holiday cheer. Angelakos made that clear in this tweet:
“Merry Christmas, Mr Fields” is not about christmas. It is an emotional plea at a time when fact is refuted, horror and hate normalized.
— Passion Pit (@passionpit) December 18, 2016
Angelakos went on to tweet that if they were to explain every reason why they made the album, it’d to a disservice to the points they were trying to make. But this week he went over to Genius and shared the thought process behind a good chunk of the album’s lyrics, which were written by himself and Katz. This remark regarding a line from “Stained Glass Windows” stands out in particular:
Visuals aside, a good portion of the album has traces of vintage Passion Pit. Angelakos wrote, produced and performed all of the music. A sort of nostalgic jazz swing hovers over most of the songs, but that electronic vibe his music always possesses is never far. “Evergreen” and “And Never Be Afraid” might carry the most familiar tone for Passion Pit fans, but slow tunes like “December to Remember” and “Stained Glass Windows” hold their own just as well. It’s been more than a year and a half since Passion Pit’s third album Kindred, so to see this sort of effort from Angelakos with almost no warning is one heck of a Christmas gift.
Watch Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields in its entirety below, and stream the soundtrack beneath the video.