steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
info opinion

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Self-titled CD

Slumberland Records

Genre: noise-pop, shoegazer

New York City, NY

Mar 4, 2009

Either they sound like all these underappreciated obscure noisy bands, and that heralds a revival movement so they're great, or they sound like clichéd touchstone My Bloody Valentine, and that's derivative so they suck. I can't decide! And who cares if they can write songs. What I do know is that like so many other posturing rods, these guys feature one of the worst band names imaginable. Not only does it combine the anti-virtues of being unwieldy, stupid and flat-out uncomfortable to say, it's a complete misnomer. Other than the song about the creepy lecherous professor, and the opener, and maybe the one about the girl stuck with the abusive... small town(?), these songs are pie-in-the-sky optimistic. Maybe the point is that they're escapist fantasies that'll never come true, except the professor. I doubt it.

Fortunately, beyond the title, this album is pretty infectious. These guys identify as 'noise-pop,' which means 'pop with a ubiquitous layer of screeching distortion that they occasionally turn off in the long ones for dramatic effect.' And they're good at it. They sound very giddy. Their boy-girl vocal layering is cute enough -- think Stars -- to send most listeners into diabetic shock. The juxtaposition of that cuteness against the screeching distortion makes the album sound blissful and dreamy. It's headphones music.

Their subject matter is emotions at potential points of inflection in relationships, which makes plenty of sense. In these songs, their glass is half-full, and the possibilities send them into wild fits of ecstasy. But for all their sweetness, their secret weapon is Kurt Feldman's exuberant drumming, as low in the mix as it is high in thunderosity and central to the band's groove. It keeps them sounding giddy even in their wistful songs, especially "Stay Alive."

This album's two endless repeaters are its fastest and most unabashedly optimistic tracks -- "Everything With You" and "Come Saturday." Those are especially recommended for Superchunk fans. As for the rest? Don't expect iconic monster hooks; on this debut album, the noise is the hook. Maybe they'll branch out in the future. But do expect to feel a little warmer and fuzzier inside for no real reason, which I'm pretty sure is the point. So, mission accomplished! A solid debut.

the pains of being pure at heart's myspace


youuuuuuuutube!: video for "everything with you"

Rhett Alexander

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by the label, released Feb 3, 2009]