Monday, February 16, 2009

the pains of being pure at heart - s/t

It's less than a month and a half into 2009, and yet quite a few people have already had their socks knocked off by the debut album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It's no secret how much I love this band, but I have realised I've not extolled my love of this record in great detail. As produced by the right royal Archie Moore (an aside: why don't people talk about The Saturday People anymore? That self titled record of theirs is brilliant!), it's a tight, fuzzy, noisy, catchy album full of guitars that make me dance and cry and darkly brilliant lyrics coated in hard toffee - sweet, but might just break your teeth.

My favourite tracks? Well, I love it all, but whenever I listen to it, I am always waiting in anticipation for track seven, "Everything With You", which ranks as one of the best pop singles in the last ten years. Honestly, as soon as the two minute mark clicks over and the most astronomical guitar solo hits, I disappear into the stars and whisk myself away into the most glorious pop heavenly bliss ever known. I am not exaggerating - those sort of guitar lines make me go crazy. It's one of those songs that, if I ever get to hear it on a dancefloor, it will turn it into a perfect, perfect night.

The one-two hits well and truly with "A Teenager In Love", all softly optimistic in tune but awfully, awfully dark in lyric, seemingly about someone who took their own life. There lyrics are incredibly dark - something I never quite grasped in all this listening, but it's this darkness that really provides a contrast to the beautiful, uplifting noisy pop. In thinking about this, a lot of great noisy pop has a dark undercurrent - I but think of The Painted Word-era Television Personalities and the lyrics on tracks like "Happy All The Time". Perhaps that's the contrast required - pop allows us to swallow the difficulties and awful truths of life in a way that helps to ease our troubles.

Anyway, I love the entire album - "Contender" starts the album off slowly, and over the course of the ten tracks, it builds and builds before closing with the Jesus & Mary Chain-esque "Gentle Sons". It's special, timeless and an album I am going to treasure and preach about quite a bit this year.

If you're in Australia, buy yourself a copy at Lost & Lonesome.


alistair fitchett said...

Gosh, I feel kind of bad saying this, but the album left me totally underwhelmed. Maybe I was just expecting too much, I'm not sure. Or maybe I have just not been in the right mood. Whatever it is, I just found the whole thing too squeeky clean. Maybe that's a production issue, or a digital format issue. I just know that 'Come Saturday' blew me away on 7" and leaves me deeply disappointed on CD album... But hey, I have other Pains CD tracks and they sound far better, so I dunno... I guess I just wanted something way more scuffed and gritty and rough around the edges. I mean, it sounds more Chapterhouse than Meat Whiplash, you know? And I dont think that's a very good thing :(

Daz Murray said...

Haven't listened to album yet but will probably purchase once I have some moola.

I must say the album cover reminded me a lot of Belle and Sebastians 'The Life Pursuit' cover!

Tom said...

On the first few listens I found the album a bit too polished preferring the raw sound of the earlier versions. However polished or not the songs are very good especially when playing loud!

alex said...

Hmmm I can definitely understand why the polished production loses some of the charm, because with most bands I generally love raw versions of songs over their polished counterparts. Noise + poor recording + great pop melodies = a killer song.

But then, with the Pains, I think their songs are so strong that, raw or polished, I'll enjoy listening to them over and over. And I bet they would be electrifying live!

Archie said...

Hiya fellas-
Alex- thanks for the kind words!
Alistair- I hope you'll give the record a few more listens. You're exactly the sort of pop fan I was trying to impress with the mix, and I can only assume the Pains feel similarly. I must say, I'm kinda surprised by the comments here about the perceived slickness (in contrast, dude from Pitchfork called it "lo-fi" on ABC News, and some Chicago free weekly paper said it sounded like it was mixed "on a boombox in a bathroom"!), because this record was imo definitely a case of "turn the treble, fizz, feedback and reverb all the way up, and bury the vocals"... Chapterhouse? Ouch, you're killin' me!