The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Days Of Abandon

Written by: TL on 29/06/2014 00:23:26

While indie rock/dream pop group The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart might be lumped in with the shoe/nu-gaze bands of the last ten years I've always had the feeling - also from seeing them perform live - that the band had more of an easy charm and an extroverted warmth than bands like for instance Yuck, whom they're often compared to yet whom truly shoegaze in the truest and most problematic sense of the term. Hence moving to check out their third album "Days Of Abandon" - despite its month-long delay before hitting European Spotify - was for once as much a move of anticipation as one of obligation towards indie rock as a whole.

The album sees mainman and singer/guitarist Kip Berman - whose name makes me feel like he should be a character in a Wes Anderson movie or something - develop the project's sound more than I felt was the case between the self-titled debut and the sophomore "Belong". Where both former albums justified the occasional application of the noise-pop term to the band, with the vocals mumbled hazily and tucked away in pedal-drenched, floaty guitarwork, "Days Of Abandon" goes - although it's still definitely floaty in feel - for a deeper, more organic sound, where vocals, clean guitar picking and new romanticism-styled synths all fit together and stand apart in just the way they need to, making the lyrics more clearly audible and making the songs feel like more than stylistic poses with catchy choruses.

You could still argue that they are though, but they definitely have more variety in tone, although Berman wears obvious influences like The Smiths and particularly The Cure plainly on his sleeve. Regardless, it's a relatively seamless evolution while Pains' core strengths are retained: Namely the dreamy, catchy choruses. The upbeat single "Simple And Sure" opens an early triplet of highlights in infectious fashion, while "Kelly" has perhaps the most engaging arrangement of vibrant bass line, a spry, descending chord progression and female lead vocals from the guesting Jen Goma. Meanwhile, ending said triplet, "Beautiful You" treads through - and justifies - its six minute length with the elegance of indie rock royalty like Yo La Tengo. Further along, "Eurydice" tucks the vocals back deep in the sound somewhat, but the faster beat, the compelling, bubbling guitar and the blooming synths all step up and make for a contagious mood regardless, while the female response vocals that come in towards the end recalls Arcade Fire's "Keep The Car Running" (though oddly it's Win Butler's male part there that the rhythm and tone remind me of).

Interestingly, aside from Berman's improvements in the simple department of enunciation, it's the songs with added female vocals that mainly stand out on "Days Of Abandon", as shown finally on "Life After Life", which has been a favourite song of mine to wake up to after dozing off on recent morning commutes. And that's the kind of album "Days Of Abandon" strikes me as overall, one that - aside from being solid to the point of only containing one or two noticeable duds - is casual enough to phase out to when that's your mood, yet which also have enough contagious moods and recognisable choruses to keep you humming when your attention is fresh. It's the kind of album that's contently furnishing the nest inside its chosen niche, doing just enough to keep its parent band continually relevant, yet perhaps still braking slightly short of the ambition and urgency it takes to make the kind of dent in your heart that'll still be vivid come list-making time later in the year.

Download: Simple And Sure, Kelly, Eurydice, Life After Life
For The Fans Of: Yuck, Pity Sex, The Cure, Yo La Tengo, The Depreciation Guild, The Smiths

Release date 13.05.2014
Fierce Panda / Yebo Music

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