The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart


Written by: TL on 04/04/2011 21:29:10

Turning back from some brief post-hardcore coverage, it's time for another manifestation of my pet-project of bringing indie rock into focus here at Rockfreaks. Hence this review is based on my first encounter with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, as it has been facilitated by their second LP "Belong". The New York-based quartet is generally labelled as being indie-pop, yet judging from "Belong", I find this a bit strange, seeing as it appeals to me mainly in the way it contrasts dreamy indie-pop with plentiful distorted guitar-noise.

Of course, the main ingredients are guitars and bass that sound most like they belong on albums by The Cure or The Smiths, and only periodically is the distortion pedal engaged in such a way as to remind me of mellower Sunny Day Real Estate moments. These sounds come together in songs that are mostly up-beat and fairly traditional (see: chorus-oriented) in structure, and while this isn't exactly adventurous, it doesn't really need to be, and this aspect of the album is not in my opinion the one that it is hardest to become friends with.

That prize goes with no doubt in my mind, to the vocal contributions of frontman Kip Berman. In his performance, he invariably sticks to very stereotypical and introverted, indie-type mumbling. This relatively naive and chill form of delivery is what I think is mainly responsible for anchoring one of the band's legs in pop territory, and while I know it has its fans among hipper types than I, being an old emo-kid, I do think a slightly more invested and potent style would compliment especially the noisier elements better.

This is but a relatively small complaint however, seeing as the vocals only become a distraction during some of the more samey-sounding songs on "Belong", and fortunately for all, about half the songs are good enough to avoid this. Opener "Belong" for instance, has one of the best uses of clean/distortion dynamics of the record, while others numbers, like "The Body" and "Even In Dreams" are instantly recognizable offerings with catchy choruses to boot. Something similar could also be said about "My Terrible Friend", except it shines with a refrain towards the ending which, though surely catchy, also showcases the band's tendency towards lyrics that are a bit silly.

Overall, a record that I find a fifty-fifty split between songs I'll remember and songs I won't, can't be elevated to the upper domains of our grading system, but when that's been said, I'd still like to recommend "Belong" for its timeless sounds of guitar-noise and for it being the very definition of a good 'chill' record to have on, while you go about trivial doings on a slow day at home.

Download: Belong, The Body, My Terrible Friend, Even In Dreams
For The Fans Of: Yuck, The Depreciation Guild, The Cure

Release Date 29.03.2011
Slumberland/Play It Again Sam

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