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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Daniel Ross , February 9th, 2009 10:34

So let’s summarise. Your band sounds like a million other bands, and not just because of the feel of it, but because actual, practical, musical reasons. Your boy-girl vocals are octave spaced and reasonably low in the mix, your guitars are overdriven to the point of near-oblivion, and your songs are about boys and girls messing things up and annoying each other and growing up and stuff. The guitars don’t so much glide like Kevin Shields as they bound like The Soup Dragons, and the vocals don’t so much coo like The Pastels as much as they do snarl like Bizarro-era Gedge, but the rough tenets of shoegaze and C-86 are monstrously present throughout. For your band, it’s essential to either update or substantially rejuvenate these old tenets to succeed.

What’s different about The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, then? All these tedious soundalike issues exist, but what if the band allows us to ignore them? Innate sing-along charm, for one. Fucking sensible and functional songs, for another. Their sound oozes an ease and elegance that can only come with unstudied glory and their considerable inexperience. Take single ‘Come Saturday’. It’s just the simplest song you could write, but the band’s brilliant energy turns it into a shining, bold and attractive collection of well-balanced melodies and louche heartbreak. Gentle tweaks to the formula such as ebullient overdrive and the sudden emergence of fuzzy bass in the second verse ensure total freshness for the duration, but it’s the verve you’ll remember more than anything else.

Elsewhere, there are any number of simple pleasures that do the exact same thing. The staccato homophony of high register guitar chords and thumping toms on ‘Young Adult Friction’ are utter exhilaration, the gentleness of the guitar strokes on the righteous ‘This Love Is Fucking Right!’, there’s plenty to rave about. While the buoyancy and the energy doesn’t extend to every single second (how could it?), The ‘Pains prove that their youth and simultaneous knowledge of their ancestry are enough to make the most straight-forward and digestible of pop records. Not a note is wasted, not a tune possessing more ennui than it should by rights be milked for. Pure economy. Perhaps the only worry is that a second album will jade them, rob them of their spirit, but that’s not for now.

So your band, then. It sounds like a million other bands. But so do those million other bands. Count yourselves among their ranks and continue on.

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