ah, that might explain it somewhat—p90s can definitely be their own beast to a degree.
this isn’t an ideal analogy at all, but to my ear active pickups offer a tone that’s almost comparable to a hyper-compressed synth sound—it’s all right there and in your face, but ultimately very one-dimensional. this is especially true on bass. meanwhile, passive pickups have a wider range, which leaves them much more open to external augmentation even if they don’t sound quite right out of the gate.
take this all with a grain of salt, of course, as it’s very possible you might find active to suit your purposes exactly.
before committing to it though, i’d highly recommend giving a try to a few different kinds of passives—strat and traditional-style tele setups can both be great for guitar, as are classic p and j configurations on bass.
also keep in mind that there are lots of boutique pickup-makers out there whose products can elevate an average guitar into the realm of disbelief for very little cost—when i was still playing primarily in the strong family, i almost exclusively used non-stock pickups for the very reason you mentioned.