Sunday, February 15, 2009
Album Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (2009)
Every once in a while, an album comes along that feels perfect with the emotions you are experiencing at that point in your life. Last year, Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight - our top album in 2008 - jumped out at me for that reason. In 2009, the first band to follow suit is The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart with their self-titled debut.
The melodies here are lush and gorgeous. Immediately, these are what draw you in. Every song is overflowing with hooks, with up-tempo guitars and a little distortion thrown in for good measure. It's reminiscent of Headlights at their best in how easy it is to become addicted to each song (it took me far too long to move past album opener "Contender"). On first listen, these melodies are the highlight.
However, it's on second listen that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart becomes an album of the year candidate. The songs are pretty to listen to, yes, but the lyrics are outstanding; every song has a feeling to grab onto. "Contender" talks about watching someone who, "Gave up books for film / Gave up film for time / Now that you've got none." The adorable "Come Saturday" exclaims, "Who cares if there's a party somewhere / We're going to stay in." If you've been waiting for the next great song about hooking up in a library, you've found it in "Young Adult Friction".
What really sold me on the greatness of this album, though, was closer "Gentle Sons". Here is where they fully embrace the shoegaze vibe they hint at throughout the first nine songs, and the results are magnificent. It's a combination of their hook-writing ability, My Bloody Valentine drone, and the most heartwrenching lyrics on TPOBPAH. "Now you say you need a friend / But we can't live again," lead singer Kip Berman chants as the drums propulse the song forward to its anthemic peak.
TPOBPAH is the sound of being a young adult. It's the sound of growing up, giving in, falling in love, having your heart broken, and all the feelings that fall into those spectrums. I hate saying things like this in February, but this is going to be near or at the top of many year-end lists, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that included mine.
2. Come Saturday
3. Young Adult Friction
4. This Love Is Fucking Right!
5. The Tenure Itch
6. Stay Alive
7. Everything With You
8. A Teenager In Love
9. Hey Paul
10. Gentle Sons