Review Summary: "When everyone was doing drugs, we were doing love"
Apparently the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are releasing their newest album, the simply titled "Belong", not only on the traditional C.D and vinyl, but also as a button. Yes, a button. You clip it on to your shirt, plug your headphones in on the bottom, and instantly get transported into the land of lollipops and ***ty band names. Of course it would be entirely different if the ridiculous concept didn't gel with a ridiculous band, but thankfully for Pure At Heart, this is easily the case. Because Pure At Heart have done something remarkable here, they've played two chords, added some strings to Kip's smoky croon, and tried to convince us that they were playing actually noise pop, and in the end, they accidentally made legitimately entertaining noise pop. In fact, along with transporting us right back to the early nineties, they have actually made one of the best albums of the year, and believe me, nobody saw that coming.
In it's shiny heart of heats, Belong is a simple pop album. The music consists of a fuzzy blur with the consistency and effect of caffeine coated adderal, but somehow it transmits itself into becoming much more than that. It almost seems to be conflicted with an awful case of 59 sound-it-is, because no matter how many hooks they try, no hook falls flat, no matter how many cliché’s they pump into their music, it all sounds fresh, and goddamn it, by the end of the month, this entire album is just going to sound anthemic. Sure, Gaslight Anthem sound like they should be playing in a John Wayne movie, while Pure At Heart sound like they belong in some sterilized soda-shop where the waiters are composed of plastic smiles and rollerblades, but once the record starts spinning the effect remains amazingly the same.
Of course while Gaslight Anthem had fantasies about being in the fifties and dressing up like Elvis, Pure At Heart just seems content reliving whatever the hell happened in their teenage years. And whatever it is, it sure sounds dramatic. Whether it's Peggy’s lethargically detached voice repeating "We just don't belong" in the title track, to the devastatingly simple statement "There's no use to say how much it kills, when it still kills all the same", or even the defeated sigh of "everyone is just everyone", following the thousands of get-togethers, and break-ups in this album is simply exhausting, and magically, just as satisfying. It's cheery pop music with a kick. The feel good album of the year with just the right amount of youthful sorrow.
In the end, "Belong" has the same emotional force of that cheesy Christmas movie "It's A Wonderful Life" with just enough narcotic haze to keep you from realizing just how hard it hit you. It’s hard to believe that Pure At Heart can spend 10 songs recounting the throes of adolescence without the record being reduced to over-sentimental drivel. But somehow between the joy and the heartbreak they’ll have you reminiscing about that romantic date alone on the beach, and you, remarkably, being stood up at prom (I know, who would ever do such a thing?) But even if somehow they don’t, you’ll still be singing along with this entire record in no time at all. Because apparently the pain of being pure at heart is having the ability to make damn good music, and screw-it-all if I’m not going to be listening to this album all day today, just like I listened to it all of yesterday. In fact I'm probably going to buy that stupid button. Talk about that for success.