Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Synth Masterpiece: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart is an example of a band with a very intriguing name, so intriguing that I decided to check out their self-titled album on a whim. Without any preconceived notions to what the band sounded like, who their influences were, or where they were from, I waited 15 minutes for the album to download to my hard drive and then spent the rest of day listening to all 10 songs on this lovely album.

The Pains are a New York-band with a sort of low-fi, 80s rock sound. The name of the band came from an unpublished children's' story written by a friend of front-man Kip Berman (according to their wikipedia page). They have been hailed by Stereogum as a band to watch. They have become a staple of KEXP and are currently playing at South by Southwest. By utilizing both female and male vocals and a variety of instruments - including synthesizer keyboards, the band is reminiscent of such groups as New Order and My Bloody Valentine, but with a bit more modernity.

They released their debut album in 2009 to Slumberland Records. It has been hailed by critics, including Pitchfork. "Come Saturday," the second track on their self-titled debut album, reminded me of 80s Brit Rock, like The Smiths without Morrissey's stand-out vocals. Other songs, like "Young Adult Fiction," have a happy-go-lucky synth-infused melody. "A Teenager in Love" is their most dance-tastic track. Its clap-along drum beat is easily recognizable over the boy/girl vocal styling. "Gentle Sons," the closing track, has a generous guitar solo and leaves a sense of desire in the ear of the listener.

When I told Jenna I was going to blog about this band, she said, "That band sounds emo! Is it?" That is a fair question. I respond, "No. Not really. Although the name does suggest a certain degree of 'emo-ness'." But the fact that their influences are placed largely in the 1980s make them a desirable band for anyone who appreciates a low-fi synth masterpiece, which is what I believe this album, and this band, evokes.

Check out the glory of The Pains of Being Pure At Heart for yourself with these mp3s...

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