03 February 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

This is a New York self-titled debut (3 February 2009) that is worth the investment.

Formed in 2007, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart combine the guitar playing elements of the post-punk movement with the distortion and vocal styles of shoegazing. There is always an internal competition between melody and distortion; the balance is always struck precisely where it needs to be. Continuing the tradition of New York City musicians that challenge the norm of what is expected, like Blondie or Interpol, this band’s music is essentially noise pop, and very reminiscent of early Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine – which is of course more popular in Europe than here in the States. This may be the reason why a band like the Wedding Present asked them to tour as an opening act. Though many acts are leaning towards the melodious and easily radio consumed sounds, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart take a bold step in the opposite direction.

This album is best described as hooky guitars accompanied by ambient keyboards. Lyrically, the band oscillates from the quirky (in “Stay Alive” – “Don’t you try to shoot up the sky, tonight we’ll stay alive”) to the disturbing (in “This Love is Fucking Right!” – “Sweet sister, can’t you find the words to say? Your Mister, he don’t hurt you the right way…”)

The beauty of the album is its straightforward production style. There is no attempt at the grandiose or at multi-layering of sounds; instead of allowing gimmicky studio tricks to hook you in, the music speaks for itself. However, their sound is definitely more European than American. This band may have an easier time of reaching the top of the BBC Radio 1 Charts than Billboard’s. Nevertheless, this album will take your breath away if you give into the soundscape it generates – and you will probably be left wanting more.

Track Listing:

1. Contender
2. Come Saturday
3. Young Adult Friction
4. This Love Is Fucking Right!
5. The Tenure Itch
6. Stay Alive
7. Everything With You
8. A Teenager in Love
9. Hey Paul
10. Gentle Sons

By the way, catch the Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Mercury Lounge on 7 February 2009, with Depreciation Guild.