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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Days Of Abandon JR Moores , May 29th, 2014 08:09

God this is meh. This is whole new level of meh. This is maximum meh. How is that even possible? Isn't meh supposed to be, by definition, nothingy, incapable of inciting anything beyond indifference? To their credit, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have sought out and epitomised that elusive oxymoron of extreme meh-iness. A tremehndous achievemehnt.

Days Of Abandon will utterly meh you down. You'd feel less overcome by pure meh were you to visit the Early Mehdernnism exhibition at the National Mehritime Museum in Mehton-upon-Meh (Tripadvisor review: "cafeteria carrot cake a little dry, but great gift shop"). Days of Abandon couldn't be any more meh if it had a guest spot from Dire Straits' Mehk Knopfler and was introduced by Emmeh Willis from TV's The Voice. Luckless vegans have been served bowls of plain lettuce by insensitive barbeque hosts that weren't as meh as this.

But let's begin with the one thing about this record that isn't meh: its artwork. The cover is a piece by South Korean artist Lin Jinju. Her painting, at least, cannot be described as meh. With all its smashed eggs, pantyhose and boobies, it could be described as garish or unsubtle or a bit Jeff Koons-fondles-Tracey-Emin-in-Amy-Cutler's-pastels-drawer but The Material of Mind (2010) ain't meh. It provokes a stronger reaction than "meh", however shallow or fleeting. Which is more than can be said for the music it has been commissioned to adorn.

After their art's mocked, 'Pains begin with a track called 'Art Smock'. As openers go, it's hardly 'Angel Of Death', 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', or 'Let's Get It On'. It's aiming for the more understated ease-you-in vibe of Pavement's 'We Dance', Veruca Salt's 'The Same Person', or Foo Fighters' 'Doll'. As such, 'Art Smock' piddles out the speakers like Kip Berman didn't need a wee but visited the urinals anyway because he wasn't certain when the next service-station piss-stop would come. Less calm before the storm than calm before the tsunameh.

Kip Berman (Mehrman? Bermehn? Mehrmehn?) is the mehgalomaniac behind The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart who uses a rotating cast of collaborators to fulfil his sappy creative vision. He sings. Or claims to. This is not the voice of a rock & roll singer though. It is the final puff of air escaping from a deflated air-bed. Meh-bed. Meh!

(On a couple of numbers Berman hands main vocal duties over to Jen Goma from A Sunny Day In Glasgow, perhaps selected because her band has an equally terrible name as The Pains Of Being Blah Blah Blah. Her voice is stronger than Kip's, but she's hardly Stevie Nicks.)

The LP's music alternates between drippy ballads like its opener and jangly upbeat Cure-lite ditties with uninspired lyrics such as "It's you / Beautiful You" (Track four: 'Beautiful You'). The only way this soggy drivel would sound remotely edgy or vibrant was if you caught Pains in a tent at V Festival after six pints of cider and a morning spent with a privately-educated busker repeatedly serenading you with his own unique take on Jack Johnson's 'Better Together'.

Kip is among that bunch of contemehporary Amehrican tweesters who revere the indie heroes of Mehrry Olde England, from Mehrrissey to Meh Bloody Valentine, but end up resembling Paul Simon after being diluted, lobotomised, and amputated from those Heinz Beans blokes. Like any indie star who aspires to break into the mehnstream, Berman's mehrcurial rise from lo-fi enigmeh to mehddle of the road pre-emehnence has seen him jettison the fuzzier shoegazey textures exhibited on Pains' 2009 debut leaving nothing but a mehdiocre husk of what their wikipedia entry still misleadingly describes as "noise pop".

(To clarify, Days Of Abandon isn't bad because it's boring. There is nothing wrong with boredom. Just listen to Sunn O))), Swans, Earth, Nadja and all those other groups who play the same slow chord over and over again. Just read the exquisitely tedious passages in Moby Dick when Ishmael is banging on about whale anatomy for page after page. Or peruse The Pale King, David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel about the beauty of boredom. Immerse yourself in the monotonous humour of The Trip and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle. Discover Lee's ex-partner Richard Herring's forty-minute skit about yoghurt, one of the finest, most pointlessly pedantic, stand-up routines of all time. Find yourself a Rothko Room and sit there for a week or two. Life lasts longer if it is filled with periods of boredom and discomfort, as advocated in Catch-22 by Lieutenant Dunbar, the airman who "loved shooting skeet because he hated every minute of it and the time passed so slowly". Oh, if only Days Of Abandon was more boring. It is not boring. It is not that good. It is simply meh. The epitomeh of meh.)

Tl;dr? Sorry to have bored you with such an intermehnable mehditation.

The final track's all right. It's got some nice warm brass on it.