Review Summary: Hazy pop band gives us a stellar EP with 4 great new tracks and one stupendous remix.
Last year NME friendly pop enthusiasts The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart dropped their self-titled wallop of a debut catching ears with their sweet jangly guitars, precious melodies and personal songwriting. Their brand of hazy surf-rock influenced brit-pop was as catchy as it was intricate, each song up to its neck in hooks, but is also steeped in musical prowess and studio experimentation. Higher Than The Stars
, their aptly titled follow-up EP pretty much keeps pace with it’s preceding album. The four new songs (and one baller of a Saint Etienne remix) are still distorted guitar pop, still bouncy, still soft spoken, but this time the band is playing more towards home. As opposed to predominantly British name-checks, this time you can hear the Replacements influence on the guitar work here. The track list is still heavy on the hazy side of things, but it presents an almost rawer version of their sound. The notes are bountiful and easier to decipher from one another now (a big no-no in dream pop everyone!) and as always front man Kip Berman seems to share some kind of lyrical bond with Westerberg anyways, so it is fitting this direction they’ve taken.
Lyrically its not much of a departure, offering up the same scirpted dialogues and everyday anecdotes Berman gained praise for the first time around. From the hard realizations of growing up (“Twins”), to telling the one that got away
to finally leave (“Falling Over”) all the way to getting stoned for the first time in your friend’s mom’s car (“Higher Than The Stars.”) Topped off with a Saint Etienne remix reminding us why they are, in fact, the masters of expansive, psychedelia infused electronic pop. If anything really this EP is nothing but an indication of where this band plans on going, and seeing the slight leaning towards guitar-rock as opposed to dream-pop here may finally garner them comparisons to someone other than C86 bands. Though when it comes down to their music in the base sense, they’ll probably never escape them. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are experts at crafting soothing pop melodies wrapped up in woozy fuzz and bombastic reverb, and few are doing it better. Really, should we be asking for more? Or thanking them for what we’re getting? Higher Than The Stars
is another strong case for the latter.