The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Belong


4.0
excellent

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
March 28th, 2011 | 56 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hey, rockists! It's okay to crack a smile sometimes!

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are essentially the antithesis to "rock" - that is, the sexed-up, drugged-up, testosterone-driven archetype favored by those journalists who fancy themselves modern-day extensions of that mid-twentieth-century "philosophy" and culture. Their press photos show them eating pizza, lying in grassy fields on a sunny day, horsing around in front of hand-drawn backdrops, and smiling a lot while wearing cardigans and plaid shirts. Their sophomore album is titled Belong, which flies right in the face of the notion that rockers ought to be "outsiders". All of which makes the band way too easy to write off as yet another insufferably cute indie pop outfit to be hyped up by those persons who have a tendency to wear, uh, cardigans and plaid shirts.

Here's the thing, though - the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are really fucking good at what they do, which mostly involves cranking out superb pop songs with impressive consistency. They already established this much with their excellent self-titled debut, but Belong still feels like something of a revelation. An altogether more polished affair than its predecessor, largely due to Flood and Alan Moulder's sparkling production, the record's songs are less treble-heavy and sound significantly more confident than those found on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It would be a stretch to call "Belong" merely twee, what with that chunky guitar riff that enters the picture about fifteen seconds in; if the song lacks some of the buoyant charm that defined, say, "Young Adult Friction", it's robust enough to make up for a line as saccharine as "I know it is wrong / but I know we still belong."

Besides, there's plenty of charm to go around; "Girls of 1000 Dreams" is a quick and narcotic burst of energy that perfectly balances the band's sonically dirty tendencies and their unabashedly happy songwriting, its melodies gleaming and guitars rocking with such ferocity that a lyric about waking up at your parents' place sounds blissfully carefree rather than overly self-aware. Belong captures being young in a way that transcends the typically coy traditions of indie pop and shoots straight for the heart. Yeah, that sounds teeth-gnashingly sugary on paper, but if the glorious synth wash of "The Body" don't trigger some vague sense of happy nostalgia, you might be dead inside. Beyond that, though, the band manage to elegantly encapsulate the sadness of being in your teens, falling in love for the first time, and having it not go as well as you hoped. "Heart in Your Heartbreak" is blessed with one of the most affecting choruses of the year, with Kip Berman singing ruefully, "She was the heart in your heartbreak / she was the miss in your mistake / and no matter what you take / you're never going to forget." It isn't heavy stuff by any means, which makes its emotional impact all the more startling.

And so we're left with a record that not only sounds terrific, but also has an undeniable and universal appeal. These songs palpably click in the way that only conventional pop songs can, possessing narcotic hooks as well as just the right amount of schmaltz. You can call it "harmless" and "flaccid", as a condescending review in NME did, or you can choose to really understand the mixture of sadness and optimism in a line like "Everyone is pretty and fun / everyone is lovely and young." Because sure, in their current incarnation, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart aren't exactly going to be getting laid 24/7, but neither are 21st-century teenagers, no matter what our superficially eroticized pop culture says. You could say, then, that in its innocuous sexlessness, Belong is one of the most unsparingly honest records to be released this year. And that's not so easy to dismiss, is it?



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user ratings (213)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
teddycutler1 (4)
At times painfully awful and at others hopelessly lovely, it's a never less than enjoyable diversion...

Beram C. Lansay (4.5)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart "Belong" in your heart....

Ryan Fitz (4.5)
"When everyone was doing drugs, we were doing love"...


Comments:Add a Comment 
conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

released tomorrow! streaming here: http://www.thepainsofbeingpureatheart.com/

conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also find it pretty funny that in my review for The Weeknd I was praising the record's sexuality whereas here I'm defending the band's lack of said libido

gaslightanthem
March 28th 2011


5209 Comments


idk i've liked songs on shuffle but find it hard to suffer as an album

cvlts
March 28th 2011


8985 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd do all sorts of things to the chick in this band.

Tyrael
March 28th 2011


20971 Comments


Nice review Conrad, I will check this out.

psykonaut
March 28th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this is a terrific review.

I'd do all sorts of things to the chick in this band. [2]

conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks, guys. I was really surprised by this record; I enjoyed their debut quite a lot but this really was on a different level

AggravatedYeti
March 28th 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think I still prefer the debut but this record is solid as fuck.
review is pretty alright too : )

Hep Kat
March 28th 2011


15399 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

might bump my rating up


maybe

Digging: Burning Kitchen - Many Wonder About the Meaning of Life

iFghtffyrdmns
March 28th 2011


7047 Comments


intro is cash.

another solid review conrad, cheers

oh and:
I'd do all sorts of things to the chick in this band. [-1]
I do not find her to be a handsome woman in the slightest, so Genocide you and whoever can battle over her while I spectate.

conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks, mayne

NME's review of this really was the most awful thing

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2011


10583 Comments


yo conrad hit me up with some bands this band sounds like that i know not named smashing pumpkins

also this cover looks exactly like manic street preachers journal of plague lovers amirite

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

think my bloody valentine with some happiness and caffeine

cvlts
March 28th 2011


8985 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dont these guys sound like Death From Above or am I just tonedeaf?

AggravatedYeti
March 28th 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

some bands this band sounds like that i know not named smashing pumpkins

The Field Mice, Heavenly, Black Tambourine.
and to a somewhat lesser extent: Beat Happening, The Magnetic Fields, Lush & Slowdive.

also MBV. this band is pretty much Field Mice + MBV.

lancebramsay
March 28th 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, pos.

3 reviews now, this is becoming the king of limbs :O

conradtao
Emeritus
March 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

except this record is actually really excellent :3

lancebramsay
March 28th 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this>king of limbs

easily. Sadly king of limbs will probably be in the top 50 albums of 2011 list while this will be omitted.

conradtao
Emeritus
March 29th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, this really deserves more attention :|

it's not only on sputnik; i've got friends who are fans of these guys who didn't even know that this album was coming out

vmcoia91
March 29th 2011


562 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like their first album so I need to check this out.



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