Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Belong review

The problem with much of the music which is being currently championed by the Pitchfork set is that if you're over the age of thirty, you've probably heard it somewhere before. Much of Pitchfork's 2010 Top 100 songs sounded like a step back to British 80's indie guitar pop. I guess on the grand scale of things, there could be worse times in music history to be influenced by but I can't say a lot of it does much for me. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart fall very much into this category with a sound that echo's the guitar pop of Thatcher's England. Despite this, I have to admit that I really liked their first record (I bought it on vinyl which generally means it's rated as a keeper) and if anything I like Belong a lot more than their debut.

If the band had one problem on their first album they almost seemed tentative or twee for the music they were trying to produce (if that's even possible). On Belong, you immediately notice that even though the music is drawn from the same palette as the first album it seems more expansive and punchy (perhaps a result of the production of Flood). There is also an assuredness and confidence in the compositions as well as the singing that probably reflects more touring. The influences are still front and centre (think Smiths, Orange Juice, MBV channeled through the Smashing Pumpkins) but it is not distracting like it is on the Yuck album I reviewed a couple of days ago. If anything, it makes you want to wear a loose fitting pirate shirt and dance around with chrysanthemums Morrissey style.

Currently, my favourite track is My Terrible Friend (above) because it feels like a long lost outtake from the Cure's Head on the Door. So much like the Yuck album, if you like the bands that I've mentioned there's a fair chance you'll take to this album as well. While the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are yet to find a truly unique voice, this is some mighty fine indie pop if that's your flavour.



  1. You've nailed it as usual, JH. I didn't realise you liked like their last album - and enough to go vinyl! Wow. I liked it too but think "tentative" and "twee" are good descriptors.
    This one isn't doing much for me but I was surprised (and impressed) by how British it sounded. These guys obviously have cool musical influences but on first listen this album is a little bland and samey.

    I don't even read Pitchfork anymore. And that's when you know you're getting old!


  2. I have to say the new one took about three listens but was worth the wait for the hooks to shine through. I think it's a good album and NME slammed it, so they must be doing something right.

    Oh Katie, you're so old and not jiggy wit tha kids anymore - unlike myself who is totally hip. BTW I was listening to Anthrax on the way to work this morning - unironically! x