Release Date: May 13, 2014
Record label: Fierce Panda Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
TPOBPAH have progressed from the fey C86 hyper-jangles of their first two records to glossy pop on this third album. It’s unfortunate that it happens to be the sort of sizzly ’80s teen flick synth-pop that the world and its weekend detention group has been making for years, to the point where you half expect Insane Clown Posse to cover Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, but still. The Brooklyn four-piece attack this beached retro whale with melodies like explosive-tipped harpoons; ‘Until The Sun Explodes’ and ‘Eurydice’ are euphoric tunes as warm and blinding as solar storms and the lush harmonies of ‘Life After Life’ recall the late, great Kirsty MacColl at her grandest.
Brooklyn's Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the pop vehicle for songwriter Kip Berman and a rotating circle of musician-friends, continues to shift and contort its sound three albums deep into its discography. The first album reflected the group's early, intimate approach with its small-scale bedroom tape sound. Then Belong came along, and everything got bigger: the guitars took on a heavier crunch, and the massive synths held back only enough to keep from swallowing up Berman's feather-light vocals.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have never been shy about their influences. The jangly, shrill treble of their 2009 debut instantly harkened back to C86-infused indie pop of the late '80s and early '90s. Yet rather than coming off like a band simply riding the popularity of a trendy second indie pop wave, the band managed to place themselves within an almost perfect musical niche of their own.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. For their third studio full-length, NYC's masters of the concise The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have scrubbed up and shipped out to the pop archipelago where acts like Surfer Blood, Best Coast and The Drums reign supreme. It's still distinctly laced with calling-card POBPAH fuzz, but they've scaled back the shoegazer components, favouring the radiant surf-pop revivalist movement that's doused in lo-fi, sun-frenched bliss.
Five years is an awful long time in the world of music, as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart can ably demonstrate. From their humble beginnings culminating in 2009's self-title debut through to 2011's Smashing Pumpkins indebted follow-up Belong, the metamorphic transformation undertaken to get to long-awaited third album Days Of Abandon symbolizing a new found maturity among other things. Whereas both its predecessors put a heavy emphasis on distortion and feedback, Days of Abandon lets the songs breathe and ultimately speak for themselves.
On their third album, Days of Abandon, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman is a young romantic in a state of flux. The Pains' still-stellar self-titled debut and 2011's Flood-helmed, fully Corgan-ized Belong put precious little distance between Berman's heart and his sleeve: these were head-spinning, chest-swelling records, drunk on romance, dizzy with possibility. Abandon doesn't completely ditch the heart-bursting intensity that powered the Pains' previous work, but it's no longer its driving force.
“I think my mom will like this one more, and that’s how I usually evaluate songwriting,” The Pains of Being Pure at Heart songwriter Kip Berman recently told MTV about Days of Abandon. Berman’s quote is accurate. Despite some inspired guest contributions from A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s Jen Goma and Beirut’s Kelly Pratt, the raw guitar anthems from Belong are too often replaced by poppy fizz, toothless jangle and twee melancholia on Abandon.
Kip Berman, leader of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, almost called his new album “Welcome to the Jangle”. He’s aware of his reputation. He’s sort of indie pop’s Boy Who Lived, the guy who five years ago somehow brought 2003 back as though verbose band names and uncompromising innocence had never gone out of style. Even now that every other rock band’s busy smoothing out their R&B licks, Berman’s chirping “I just wanna be yours!” along a big rock candy melody.
It’s not like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart was the only band playing shoegaze-y indie pop when the group emerged in 2007, but the trio (and, later, foursome) had a spark that set them apart from most of their peers. Along with a winsome sincerity, Kip Berman and Co. brought an infectious enthusiasm to the bristling, catchy songs on their self-titled debut LP in 2009.
Amid the ashes of the New York nu-gaze scene (Girls, the Drums, Crystal Stilts) 2014's TPOBPAH exist undisturbed by competitors, or bandmates for that matter – frontman Kip Berman now works alone, collaborating with various musicians to create the aptly titled Days of Abandon. Pains' third is Berman's distilled vision of the band: it's lighter and brighter than their slightly fuzzy previous LPs. When it's good, it's the doting Beautiful You and the bombastic 80s soap opera emotions of Kelly, and when it's bad it's the odd, clipped Stuart Murdoch Brit-isms of Art Smock, or Simple and Sure, which sounds like the Cure's Mint Car, if Robert Smith was brought back to life as a deck shoe-wearing Californian food blogger weaned on elderflower cordial.
After becoming pretty much synonymous with new school noise-pop with their first two albums, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart wouldn’t be a band you’d think would be going through identity issues at this point. But the third full-length Days of Abandon finds the Pains in flux, with a new sound that’s crisper and cleaner as well as a lineup now reconfigured around mainman Kip Berman and a cast of collaborators supporting him. On the one hand, the Pains’ musicianship has not just caught up to the charms of their trademark indie-pop appeal, but has surpassed it, with Berman and company no longer depending on nostalgia or some other intangible, ineffable quality this time around.
If the Pains of Being Pure at Heart made a big leap forward sonically with their second album, 2011's Belong then 2014's Days of Abandon is an attempt to consolidate their newly slick and streamlined approach into something even more shiny and radio-friendly. Stepping back from the arena-sized sound and dynamics of Belong, Days takes a more thoughtful and considered path that leads to a similar destination, only with less impressive results this time around. Working for the first time without founding members Alex Naidus and Peggy Wang, singer/guitarist Kip Berman relies on longtime collaborator Kurt Feldman for musical support and also drafts in A Sunny Day in Glasgow's Jen Goma to provide backing vocals as well as the occasional lead.
The cynics amongst us would probably have reasonable grounds for suggesting that bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart don’t have much excuse for letting three years pass without a hint of new material; after all, they hardly earned themselves a reputation as radical wheel re-inventors with their first two records. Putting aside all the usual tags they have thrown at them - C86 and twee both spring immediately to mind - they displayed a mastery of their sound in impressively quick fashion on their self-titled debut and 2011’s more expansive Belong, earning themselves fans as high-profile as ex-Scotland footballer Pat Nevin and my dad in the process. It just so happens that said sound is pretty derivative; it might well be no coincidence that both of the aforementioned men hail from Glasgow, a city that the Brooklynites are positively in thrall to.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Days of Abandon (Yebo) Trailing two solid, albeit similar albums, these New York shoegazers' third LP deviates from its predecessors just enough to prevent pigeonholing. A cleaner, clearer output compared to their self-titled 2009 debut, the quick, 37-minute Days of Abandon maintains the band's ethereal noise-pop, but clears the haze with new straightforwardness and less fuzz (dreamy "Beautiful You" guitar tones delightfully echo Lush's). A recent lineup shuffle adds A Sunny Day in Glasgow's Jen Goma to the vocal mix in time to distinguish bouncy "Kelly" from a mislaid Smiths song, hers a comparatively confident delivery next to former soft-sung keyboardist/singer Peggy Wang.
opinion byMICHAEL WOJTAS Indie rock bedfellows don’t come more bizarrely mismatched than the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Bradford Cox, but here we are. True the Pains’ modern twee stance may be light-years removed from Cox’s eerie, narcotic aesthetic. But on some level, Days of Abandon, the third full-length LP from Kip Berman and company closely mirrors the dramatic shift the Deerhunter mastermind made on last year’s Monomania.
God this is meh. This is whole new level of meh. This is maximum meh. How is that even possible? Isn't meh supposed to be, by definition, nothingy, incapable of inciting anything beyond indifference? To their credit, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have sought out and epitomised that elusive oxymoron of extreme meh-iness.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart frontman Kip Berman achieved as many of his life goals as possible right out of the gate: releasing music on one of his favorite labels, appearing on late-night TV, working with famed U.K. producer Flood (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave) and finding an appreciative audience in every city of a world tour. So, what’s the next step? Shake everything up, apparently.
On its 2011 sophomore effort, Belong, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart evolved from its lo-fi origins to provide a twee twist on fuzzy alt-rock and synth pop, successfully employing an ambitiously big, noisy sound without overwhelming the shoegazey subtleties evident in their earlier work. On the new Days Of Abandon, the band—which, with the departure of keyboardist/co-vocalist Peggy Wang, has mostly become a shell for frontman Kip Berman—jettisons that contrast in favor of soft, jangly post-punk melodies. Falling far short of the promise of Belong, it is a disappointingly mild approach with exceedingly bland results.
This NYC crew never has (and probably won’t) the rep of other millennium Gotham faves like the Strokes or TV on the Radio but that’s probably because their mix of indie rock and indie pop is much more subtle and sweet. After a catchy 2009 debut, they followed up with the usual round of grueling touring and come up with the glummer but still strong (and underrated) follow-up Belong in 2011. Now firmly planted in the pop camp, their third album is a lot airier and lighter than their previous albums and while they still know how to do catchy, it feels like they’re trying much too hard to be likable and liked, which is a cute way to say that they want a bigger audience.