Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Twelve months ago The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart were something of an underground secret. To say this past year has been a triumphant one for the Brooklyn foursome would be little short of an understatement. If anything, their rise to genuine mainstream contenders feels like a signature of auspicious patronage to a scene derided by many as being deliberately obscure or elitist; yet one listen to anything The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart would suggest anything other than a holier than thou sense of bravado.
In his review of the title track from this album, Tom Breihan did us all a great service by disallowing the use of the term "lo-fi" with regard to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. From the start, folks threw around that phrase when discussing the group mostly because their early material put a light wash of textural guitars on their otherwise melancholy indie pop, but, really, it was a garnish and not the main course. At their core, Pains aren't about scuzz or even shoegaze, they're a classic bookish indie pop band-- twee, you might even say-- and Higher Than the Stars, an EP of four new songs and one excellent remix, drives that point home very clearly.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart created quite a splash earlier this year with their much talked about self-titled debut, and critics were quick to lump the band in with vaguely similiar-sounding acts like Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls. The comparisons, though, based on the thin layer of fuzz the band draped over their songs, never felt apt. The melodies were too sugary sweet, the songs too overtly lovelorn and wistful to be bunched in with the latest crop of lo-fi rising stars.
Instead of following up their well-received self-titled album with an EP full of the same kind of neo-shoegaze noise pop, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart do a little creative stretching on the Higher Than the Stars EP. The title track is a happy pop tune with the layers of fuzzy six-strings replaced with shimmering synths. It's more Field Mice than My Bloody Valentine and it works very well.
Being a hipster used to be pretty straightforward. I mean, I’m no trendy dresser and my opinions aren’t anchored to a megaphone but if someone is describing “some hipster event” or “my hipster friend”, chances are I’ll really enjoy that show and dig their friend. So why do I hesitate being outted and comfortable in my hipster-status? Because like anything old enough to be dated, hipsterism has gone postmodern! C’mon, you know the suspects: the kids who drop a few hundred to dress like bohemians, the hood-wearing teens who picked up Saturday = Youth cause they thought the breakfast club on the cover were band-members, the people who see that ‘Hipsters Must Die’ t-shirt in Urban Outfitters and fail to see the irony.