Some of the simplest music occasionally connects with you on the most personal level, and this probably is just one of those times. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have released one of the most personal albums of the year, and yet there is no explanation. From start to finish, the album wins you over, time and time again.
Minute one is full of the jangly guitar pop that leapt all over the indie landscape throughout the late 80s and into the 90s. Surrounded in layers of reverb and feedback, it chugs along, claiming that “you never were a contender.” Lyrically, it is one of the most simple ideas put to paper, but you can carry that any which way you like; it never takes away from the magnificence of the music.
At times, you can clearly see the influence of bands like My Bloody Valentine, as the band use various effects to coat their sound in a darker spectrum, but at the heart of it all is a clear understanding of the craftsmanship in pop formulas. Suppose you cleared away all the atmospherics intentions of the band, just for a moment. You would find the most accessible pop song you’ve come across this year, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. This New York quartet didn’t take the easy way into your hearts, they took the road less traveled.
Vocalist Kip seems like the sort of guy you always wanted to hang out with when you walked through your campus. He wasn’t pretentious, not even in his writing, as he was assuredly an English major. Still, every time you saw him cross your path, you knew he had something to him; you knew he could take over the world. Here, his voice is warm and entirely unassuming. The songs he crafts are all the things you wish you could’ve written, and he’ll gladly share them with you.
One of the more intriguing elements here is that the bobbing bass work is precisely what this record needs to move along. It’s got a certain bounce to it that makes you want to continually move your feet. It’s club music for those that just don’t have the need to go to the club every single night of the week. Toss that in with the simple, yet exact, drum work, and you have a rhythm section that can really claim to be the backbone of this band. See “Teenager in Love” for the perfect example of the strength of the rhythm section.
Vocal interplay across the album is perfectly fitting, coddling every little harmony. There is nothing modern about this record, other than the fact that it came out in modern times. It could fit in alongside the best albums of the Cure or even the Go-Betweens, yet it stands on it’s own two feet. Each turn brings you a new melody, a new angle with which to approach the songs. You don’t want to put it down, as you are sure that there has to be more to what lies beneath the album.
But, greatness aside, there is a drawback to the album. You want to keep listening to it over and over again. You want to play it on your walks, in your house, in your car on a sunny day. That can be a bit much, and since the sound is a bit repetitive at points, you might find yourself worn out on the album in a short time frame. Rest assured, you’ll be back soon to keep listening to this album time and time again
Download: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything With You [MP3]