The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Days of Abandon
There were a couple golden weeks in 2009 where the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s eponymous debut was my favorite thing in the world. And then reality set in and I realized that the reason I loved the album so much was because it reminded me of bands I already loved. I recognized that the band did little to differentiate themselves from their obvious influences and though enjoyable, the music was hollow. Same goes for the group’s sophomore effort, Belong, which added a beefier sonics but ultimately ended up sounding like Smashing Pumpkins half the time (and with Silversun Pickups having cornered the market on bands that sound like Smashing Pumpkins, it was an easy pass). The music is TOTALLY FINE. It’s really nice. I just can’t get past how this band manages to stay so obnoxiously derivative.
Still, despite the pains in my heart, I bit at Days of Abandon. Naturally, it’s the same old shit and I might as well be listening to the Field Mice or Adorable or any of the dreamy mope-pop greats from the late 80s/early 90s. It wouldn’t be totally hopeless if the songwriting was strong or personal, or if singer Kip Berman relied on anything but bland platitudes in his lyrics, but nope. There’s nothing here to set the Pains apart. Worst of all, in the band’s eternal sideways growth they’ve let the shoegaze elements bloat their songs into oblivion. The first three minutes of “Beautiful You” are some of the record’s strongest, but then the song doubles itself and calls attention to the repetition.
It’s all very good and nice, but for a band that wears its heart in its name, their music is all form and no substance. No heart. No soul. Just pretty ethereal guitars, sensitive Sarah Records vocals, and a bunch of songs that sound like they would rather be in England 30 years ago than live in the present. It’s a shame, because it’s a gross waste of talent. I keep coming back to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart because I know these guys have the skill to make a great record but they just can’t figure out how to mature and move past their influences to make something of their own.
"Simple and Sure"