Michael Angelakos is better known as the lead singer of indie pop group Passion Pit—he can now add a Christmas album to his resume. Angelakos has teamed up with Brent Katz, former drummer of disbanded alt-rockers Harlem Shakes to create Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields, a video-album that's as joyful as it is in the spirit of the holidays.
The video took four days to film, and was shot at the Nichols School—Angelakos' alma mater—in Buffalo, New York, and follows a troupe of high school performers through their holiday show. The exuberance and wonder of youth, especially during the holidays, is on full display here, illuminated by purple light and ethereal visuals. All proceeds from the video, as well as the soundtrack, will go to charity and to the school's art department.
Much like the dreamy, nostalgic video it accompanies, the soundtrack, released through Frenchkiss Records, sets the stage for a deeply urban holiday, with music that ranges from indie rock to the kind of sounds that, on any other record, might sound like tepid holiday fare. Songs like "Evergreen," which bottles up the triumphant joy of the holidays into a bass-heavy track with trumpet strewn through it, are curated seamlessly alongside instrumental interludes like the languid "Overture" that opens the record. "O Holy Night," breaks the mood with a particularly chilling mix of scratched reverberation played with the classic Christmas hymn.
"Weather the Storm" is another standout, but in a much different vein: the slow, piano-driven track that Angelakos carries with sensitive vocals, is the clear stand-out here: there's no way to get through it without being contemplative and hopeful. "Footprints in the Snow," drowned in sax and piano, is journey, the remnants of a Christmas story: "Our footprints in the snow / Tell a story as we go."
The title track comes near the end, exuding a dreamy kind of rhythm that ties a bow around this timely gift of a record. This album is as cohesive as it is entrenched in the realm of a Christmas record, giving both moments of self-aware sadness and jubilance that only really comes out around this time of year. Well worth the listen, whether or not you're a fan of Passion Pit (or Christmas albums, for that matter).
Watch Merry Christmas, Mr. Fields below, and download the original soundtrack; all proceeds will be donated to charity and The Nichols School Arts Department.