Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are an Awesome Band With a Very Stupid Name

It's very easy to dismiss a band just because their name sounds stupid. Often times it's easy to infer many things about a band based solely on their name. For example, if you came across a CD-R with the name Napalm Death written on the front in Sharpie pen it's safe to assume the music found within said CD would be very dark, aggressive and loud (with an ample amount of grunting). . .and you'd be right. Rage Against the Machine is another name that tells you right away what to expect. You get the idea.

If I were to apply this logic to Brooklyn trio The Pains of Being Pure at Heart then my expectation would be a steady dose of contrived sad bastard Emo pop...or possibly some paint-by-numbers Goth rip-off music. Thankfully, the band sound nothing like either of those things. In fact, their debut self-titled album sounds pretty fantastic.

Those of you who read this blog (whenever I actually post something) know that I have a soft spot for well executed Shoegaze music. My adoration for My Bloody Valentine, The Pale Saints, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Ride (among others) makes it easier to appreciate newer incarnations/variations of the genre like Deerhunter, Serena Maneesh, and Asobi Seksu. So, it shouldn't be a surprised that I loved The Pains of Being Pure at Heart from the very first listen.

It's fair to say these guys aren't very original at all, but originality way too subjective of a term with which to base all my musical choices. What does make TPOBPAH great is how seemingly effortlessly the drift between melodic dream pop ("Young Adult Friction", "Stay Alive"), noise drone ("Hey Paul", "Gentle Sons"), and even Brit-pop ("A Teenager In Love"). Throughout this album the music is very precise and focused, never lasting longer than it needs to.

This sounds easy, but I assure you it isn't. The mark of good pop music (and yes, this is a pop record at it's core) is the ability to convey a feeling clearly and concisely. In other words, get right to the point, make me feel good, and then move on to the next song in under four minutes. Fortunately, TPOBPAH are able to pull this off over and over again.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "This Love is Fucking Right" (from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Stay Alive" (from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart")

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "A Teenager In Love" (from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart")

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