The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Echo of Pleasure

Painbow

Aug 30, 2017 Issue #61 - Grizzly Bear Bookmark and Share


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After The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's self-titled 2009 debut album, leader, vocalist, and only constant band member Kip Berman has moved further away from the fuzzy indie-pop sound that brought him and his band well-deserved attention. 2011's Belong enlisted producer Flood and mixer Alan Moulder and ended up sounding like their tribute to the early '90s alternative sound. It also didn't hurt that it contained instantly memorable songs like "Heart in Your Heartbreak." The same went for 2014's Days of Abandon, a less guitar-heavy, sadder, and poppier affair that chronicled loss with songs like "Simple and Sure" that are likely to end up on a future best of compilation. On that LP, Jen Goma from A Sunny Day in Glasgow contributed guest vocals, replacing former member Peggy Wang's crucial backing vocals.

And now comes their fourth album, The Echo of Pleasure. Once again enlisting a big name producer (this time Andy Savours) and with a huge sound, this feels even further away from their roots. Although Goma returns here on "So True" (one of the highlights) and other guests abound, Berman now fully acknowledges that Pains is his band. It's also noteworthy that much of this album was recorded when his wife was six months pregnant, the pressures of impending fatherhood clearly impacting the lyrics of songs such as opener "My Only." The best song here is "When I Dance with You," which (as its title implies) successfully mines the dance floor into an instantly catchy tune. Another highlight is the fantastic title track, which Berman describes as acknowledging "the near symmetry of love." "The Cure for Death" boasts a great synth hook. Oddly, most of the best tracks are relegated to the second half of the album. This is far from Berman's best work, but sequencing aside, there is enough here to suggest that he's still got something left in the tank. (www.thepainsofbeingpureatheart.com)

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