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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

[Slumberland; 2009]

By ; July 28, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart debuts with a concise, catchy and thoroughly conventional record of shoegazing rock. If you value originality for its own sake , you’re likely to find this underwhelming (on both counts, I do not). For, although never sounding like one specific influence, the Pains have no problem with a finished product that sounds more 1993 than 2009. In terms of production, the touchstones here are the usual shoegaze standards–My Bloody Valentine and Ride–as the Pains bury each and every track in gobs of feedback and distortion. Yet, in terms of songwriting, they have much more in common with the great Twee artists of the 80s and 90s. The standout (and charmingly titled) song here is “Young Adult Friction,” a simple, melancholy and gorgeous piece built around a melody that owes quite a bit to Morrissey. Similarly, the propulsively catchy “Everything With You” hearkens to golden era Belle & Sebastian, while the opening bar of “The Tenure Itch” is vintage R.E.M. But the Pains can be forgiven their traditionalist excess due to the crisp power of their songwriting. These songs don’t simply sound like lo-fi fey indie rock from the past 20+ years–they sound like some of the best music of this type from this period. The songs are uniformly well-crafted, yes, but most importantly, they convey an aching, vulnerable heart. When confronted with focused, coherent skill such as this, one is tempted to call it “perfect”. But this record isn’t perfect, it’s something else–pure.


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