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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Higher Than The Stars EP

[Slumberland; 2009]

By ; November 24, 2009 

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

It’s been quite a year for the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Following a couple of stellar CMJ performances, the Brooklyn-based band has risen from hometown heroes to nationally acclaimed indie heartthrobs – and rightfully so. Their music harkens back to the fuzzed-out indie pop of the late ’80s and early ’90s, complete with bookish boy/girl harmonies and effervescent melodies, yet they maintain a contemporary urgency all their own.

For the most part, this five-song EP would sound right at home tacked on the to end of their dazzling self-titled debut released earlier this year, as it continues in the same vein as their previous material with minimal aesthetic differences. However, what few differences there are are rather significant. Things are more stylized this time around. There’s a newfound crispness, less reverb, tauter melodies – all of which allow those sparkling synths a little extra breathing room. The Pains manage to soundtrack the melodrama of fledgling relationships with even bouncier aplomb. Yet all the while they maintain the dreamy pop beauty of their debut, which endeared them to us in the first place.

Higher Than the Stars kicks off with the title track, a frenetic blast of scrambled keyboards and sharp riffs. It’s followed by “103,” a snappy two minutes of by-the-numbers indie rock we’ve come to expect from the band. Up next is “Falling Over,” which is among the standouts with menacing guitar and a he-said/she-said boy/girl chorus. Meanwhile, “Twins” perpetuates the lovelorn melancholia with the deceptively upbeat melody and defeatist lyricism, with the refrain of “everything that’s good is gone.” And while nothing here is much of a drastic departure from the Pains we’ve come to love, it’s imbued with a greater confidence – no doubt the result of a breakout year.

The EP concludes with the Saint Etienne “Visits Lord Spank Remix” of the title track. It is an extended, nearly seven-minute-long take that nimbly takes on trance-like techno. While an interesting electronic reinterpretation, fans of the band will probably prefer their Pains straight up. It’s a unique reworking of the song nonetheless and, like the EP as a whole, a refreshing glimpse at whatever sounds are yet to come from a band showing little signs of growing pains.


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