The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Days of Abandon
May 12, 2014 Web Exclusive
Brooklyn's Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the pop vehicle for songwriter Kip Berman and a rotating circle of musician-friends, continues to shift and contort its sound three albums deep into its discography. The first album reflected the group's early, intimate approach with its small-scale bedroom tape sound. Then Belong came along, and everything got bigger: the guitars took on a heavier crunch, and the massive synths held back only enough to keep from swallowing up Berman's feather-light vocals. This latest record features yet another evolution for the band, with new members and a slightly different vibe, but is once again centered by Berman's infectious pop songcraft.
Of the fresh faces in Pains, new singer Jen Goma (from A Sunny Day in Glasgow) is the most prominent. Her voice adds its own distinctive flavor when it pops in to the mix, and she even provides lead vocals on two songs: "Kelly" (which could almost pass for Eat to the Beat-era Blondie) and "Life After Life" (which sounds a little bit like an Isobel Campbell-fronted Belle & Sebastian song, partly in thanks to the soft horn arrangements by Beirut's Kelly Pratt).
If Belong was Pains' alternative anthems record, then Days of Abandon is their take on classic indie pop. Producer Andy Savours seems to boost the record's high-end and gives it a trebly, jangle-centric '80s sound somewhere between The Smiths and The Cure's bouncier hits. (The unmistakably Johnny Marr-like guitar riffs on "Kelly" and "Masokissed" reinforces this apparent influence.) The leap taken to get to this record isn't as jarring as the one from the debut and Belong, and its standout songs—such as "Simple and Sure" and "Eurydice"—are grounded by the huge, uplifting choruses we expect (and adore) from Pains. After a couple spins, any initial shock should dissolve like sugar. (www.thepainsofbeingpureatheart.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10