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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Album Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong

Released: 28th April
Label: Fortuna Pop!

Silly NME and their pointless willy-waving backlashes. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are back with album number two of classic indie-pop songs, gorgeous melodies and guitar-laden fuzz and (importantly) they're as good as they were the first time around.

Opening with 'Belong' is a strong move, showcasing the move into crunchier territory with an ear-splitting Smashing Pumkins-esque chorus. Kyp Berman's vocal anchors the song, his fey delivery obscuring the lyrics whilst adding to the strong sonic identity of the group. It's brilliantly meaty but doesn't stand far above the quality of the rest of Belong.

For two obvious highlights look to the pair of 'Heaven's Gonna Happen How' and 'Heart in Your Heartbreak'. Both sound as though they've been uncovered from gaudily coloured 7” singles from 1986 or the soundtracks to forgotten John Hughes films. Most guitar pop records never reach the heights presented on these two instantly memorable songs, and yet The Pains have classics and wonderful as this to spare.

The gorgeous waves and swirling emotions swell around the listener ensuring that even though the choruses are memorable on first listen there's the desire to return to Belong to be swept away by what the band have to offer. Belong sits at the very top of the indiepop pile even before we get to the sumptuous 'Even In Dreams'.

As the guitars crackle, the vocal harmonies go straight for the heartstrings. “Even in dreams, I cannot betray you” may be a somewhat twee sentiment but the earnest vocal delivery is actually more than a little bit affecting. It sits with Ringo Deathstarr's 'So High' as being one of the very best songs of the year. A dead cert for future single release, by rights it should do for The Pains what 'Sweet Disposition' did for The Temper Trap on the (500) Days Of Summer soundtrack such is its obviously cinematic appeal.

Aside from the aforementioned Smashing Pumpkins touch to the beefed up indiepop, POBP@H utilise a wide range of influences and inflictions across Belong that ensure they're far from one dimensional. 'My Terrible Friend' (which has been unfairly maligned because of simplistic lyrics) showcases the post-punk/new wave basslines of The Cure across the fretboard vibrations of acoustic guitars. The spectre of The Jesus And Mary Chain shows it's head too, providing hazier soundscapes between the pop songs. Whilst this has the tendency to obscure the songs and usher the listener into a state of less interaction with the music, it does so with a hypnotic quality, luring you into the sonic onslaught whilst allowing yr mind to drift.

In short Belong is clearly the album that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart wanted to make. It's nostalgic and melodically sumptuous and ensures that the band have ended up achieving more than enough to make clear the fact that they will transcend whatever anyone chooses to say about them. Indiepop may not be the most canonical of genres, and the frequent naivety of delivery and subject matter will always turn off some, but this is a cult band in the making and you're advised to listen in right now for yr own sake. You wont regret it and may just feel a part of something good

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