Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart by The Pains of Being of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Release Date: February 3, 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are spry newcomers on the indie scene with their eponymous Slumberland debut. Their arrival is much welcomed, not so much because they do something entirely unique, but because of how they execute what they do. At a first, seemingly superficial listen, they may sound like another lo-fi noise rock band, with the somewhat droning guitars and fuzz on a majority of the tracks, leading to a rather reflexive reaction to lump them with the countless other similar bands. However, what is really going on here should be pleasant enough to please many listeners.

At the core of their sound are indeed the warm and fuzzy guitars, coupled with a propulsive bass and simple albeit necessary drumming. It is not so lo-fi as to be abrasive to the inner ear, but rather it adds to the implied naïveté of the album. Each song is a rather infectious pop jam about being young, dumb and in love, with restrained vocals and small, well-placed additions to differentiate the tracks. Sure, we’ve been down this path before, and they know that, but their execution is laudable, particularly for a first effort. The album is subtle, sweet and sublime that is undeniably addicting and applicable, automatically invoking a connection to either life now or the all of a sudden not-so-distant past youth. Add to the list of adjectives “speedy”: “Come Saturday” starts out with a fast-paced pseudo-punk intro punctuated with the impossibly catchy backing of “ooh ooh ooh,” as the chorus softly states “Come Saturday, you’ll come to stay / You’ll come to sway in my arms.” The dreamy haze of “Everything With You” is indeed simple and sweet, with the male/female vocal combination and the lines “I’m with you and the stars are crashing through / I want everything with you.” You have got to love that universal experience of teenage love. Speaking of which, “A Teenager in Love” has the ever-popular decade of the Eighties written all over it, consistently punctuated with small keyboard additions, on top of the soft guitar and ever-persistent drums.

The clear standout track on the album is “Stay Alive.” Like all of the songs, the basic elements are all there to make it fit right in on the album. Yet, the repressed emotion behind the song is unavoidable, with its periodic plinks on the keyboard and the upbeat tempo. The chorus takes the song to purely anthemic levels that are unrivaled elsewhere on the album, with typically simple lyrics that say more than enough: “Don’t you try to shoot up the sky / Tonight, we’ll stay alive.” All signs point to a curiously cheery track, but the words and the deeper tone make it feel like an almost coping, almost cheering-up sort of mood perhaps right after the shocking melancholy of an attempted suicide of a friend. It is their finest offering of their well-crafted fuzz-pop.

Pains is truly an unabashed pop album, with something to appeal to mostly anyone. It is subtle, touching music about being young while avoiding the sound of a retread; What’s not to like?

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Everything With You"


1 comment: